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Where EAST meets the Northwest

PHAIR FUTURE. South Koreaís Casey Phair, left, and Colombiaís Carolina Arias compete for the ball during a Womenís World Cup Group H soccer match at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

From The Asian Reporter, V33, #8 (August 7, 2023), pages 15 & 20.

South Korea looks to 16-year-old Casey Phair to lead rebuild after Womenís World Cup elimination

By Brooke Evans and Taft Gantt

The Associated Press

BRISBANE, Australia ó South Korea showed its age in the Womenís World Cup and is now looking toward necessary changes to get to soccerís next level.

The rebuild will be built around 16-year-old phenom Casey Phair, the first multiracial footballer named to the South Korea national team. Phair was born in South Korea to an American father and South Korean mother and resides in New Jersey in the United States.

From a performance side, South Korea closed its tournament with strong play in a 1-1 draw that eliminated both teams. But sending home the two-time champion Germans is considered one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

From the emotional side, it was likely the final game for this current South Korean team, which is expecting significant turnover with 32-year-old So-Yun among those on the way out.

South Korea coach Colin Bell is ready for new players.

"We have to build a new team," he said. "We need to look at the system in Korea and make the right decisions to secure the future of South Korean football."

South Koreaís future certainly rides with Phair, who became the youngest player in a World Cup match when she got on the field in the teamís opening match against Colombia.

She earned her first World Cup start in the draw with Germany.

"I wanted youth and enthusiasm up front," Bell said. "It was important to show and prove that we have talented players. That energy went through the whole team."

Phair nearly scored just two minutes into her start, but her shot on goal hit the post. She felt good about her debut as she prepared to return to the U.S.

"I feel like Iíve gotten more mature about the game," Phair said. "Especially with older teammates. I thought it was a really great experience."

Phair played 85 minutes before Bell pulled her; heís deliberately managing her minutes.

"I donít want to build somebody up too quickly," he said, "We have to make sure that we take care of these young players."

Brooke Evans and Taft Gantt are students at the University of Georgiaís Carmical Sports Media Institute.

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