Germany got their Women’s World Cup warm-up underway with a solid performance against North Korea as they recorded a 2-0 win in Ingolstadt.
Kerstin Garefrekes came close to opening the scoring on 23 minutes, but Hong Myong-Hui reacted well to her shot to tip the ball over the bar to deny the Frankfurt forward.
Ye-Ri Gyong came closest to a goal for the Koreans on 38 minutes with a shot from just inside the box which beat goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, but the Germans were saved by the post.
North Korea defended well in the first half, and frustrated the German attack as they grew in confidence as the game went on, with Garefrekes and Verena Faißt doing their best to get down the wings.
German coach Silvia Neid withdrew Alexandra Popp at half-time after being isolated up front, with Célia Okoyino da Mbabi taking her place.
The Germans took the lead on 59 minutes after captain Birgit Prinz was fouled in the box by Jong Pok-Sim. Hamburg’s Kim Kulig put away the penalty.
With both sides experimenting, and 11 substitutions made between the two teams, the rest of the game was a stop-start affair, but Germany still looked capable of scoring as after getting the first goal, and Okoyino da Mbabi doubled the lead five minutes from time.
“I’m totally satisfied, that was excellent” Neid said after the game. “We have had some tough training camps and you could see some tiredness in a few heads. We did well up front and the defence behaviour was very disciplined.
“We need to get better going forward. But it would not be good if it all would work perfectly.”
For some players, it was the last chance to prove their worth to the squad before Neid cuts the 26-player squad down to 21 on Friday ahead of their final warm-up games, and a game against the North Korea – the world’s eighth best time as of March 2011 – was a good test for Neid’s side.
“We chose North Korea because they are a demanding team and that concerns us,” Neid said before the game. “They are very experienced, and tactically good. Their technical skills, I compare with the French team, which we will play in the group stages of the World Cup.
“North Korea [who are in Group C with the USA, Sweden, and Columbia] will have a say in the awarding of the World Cup title. They have quality and will be very demanding.”
The defending champions join the world’s number one ranked side, USA, in naming their final World Cup squad before they have played their remaining warm-up games, which will allow them to use the games more effectively.
Goalscorer Okoyino da Mbabi believes that the Germans have yet to hit top form, and can still improve before the tournament starts.
“We are not yet 100 per cent. You can look forward to more,” she said.
Germany will play further warm-up matches against Italy in Osnabrück on June 3, the Netherlands in Aachen on June 7, and Norway in Mainz on June 16, in addition to another two training camps before their opening World Cup game against Canada on June 26 in the Olympiastadion as Neid hopes to get the team into a “tournament rhythm”.
Germany: Angerer, Bresonik, Krahn (Peter 74), Bartusiak (Goeßling 56), Faißt, Laudehr (Hingst 65), Kulig, Garefrekes, Prinz, (Müller 74), Behringer (Bajramaj), Popp (Okoyino da Mbabi 46).
North Korea: Hong, Song, Ri Un-Hyang, Jong, Ho (Paek 67), Kim Un-Ju (Kim Myong-Gum 67), Jon Myong-Hwa (Choe 77), Kim Su-Gyong (Yun 28/Kwon 62/Yu 90+1), Jo, Ri Ye-Gyong, Ra.
Referee: Tanja Schett (Austria)
Goals: Kulig 49 (pen), Okoyino da Mbabi 85.