KUALA LUMPUR/TASHKENT: Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation president, has hailed North Korea for securing their second AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup™ title after defeating Japan 2-1 in a captivating final at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Both North Korea and Japan, as well as third-place finishers Australia and fourth-placed Korea Republic will represent the Continent at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024 to be held in Cali, Medellin and capital Bogota from August 31 to September 22 later this year.

In recognising the commendable displays of both finalists, Shaikh Salman said: “Both Japan and DPR Korea were appearing in their fourth successive final and their dominance in women’s youth football is indeed commendable, matched only by their resilience to rise above adversity, particularly against the backdrop of the forced hiatus caused by the pandemic.

“We must pay tribute to both the DPR Korea Football Association and Japan Football Association for their steadfast dedication in producing world-class women’s age-group teams with each passing edition over the past two decades.

“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate DPR Korea on their latest victory and special praise also goes to the backroom and technical staff members, particularly for their level of consistency, not just with this latest triumph, but for their tireless commitment over the years.

“I wish all four of our teams – DPR Korea, Japan, Australia and Korea Republic – the very best of success in Colombia as they look to add to the three titles that our Asian teams have won on the world stage.”

Turning his attention to first-time hosts the Uzbekistan Football Association, the AFC President added: “Our Vision to confirm football as the Continent’s number one sport and to grow and strengthen the women’s game is anchored in bringing our top-level competitions to as many territories as possible.

“So, we must applaud the Uzbekistan Football Association and the Local Organising Committee for their commendable efforts as the first ever Central Asian hosts and we hope that the exemplary example that they have set will inspire our Member Associations to create more history in this exciting and ever-evolving journey of women’s football in Asia.”

Saturday’s final was the eighth occasion that DPR Korea and Japan finished in the top two in 11 editions. Both sides share three world titles in this age-group, with DPR Korea accounting for two as Japan aim to narrow the gap on their East Asian rivals at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup this August.