The Papua New Guinea U-20 women’s team made history in their 7-1 loss to Group A winners Korea DPR at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup overnight when Nicollete Ageva became the first Papua New Guinean to score at a FIFA tournament.

Two previous defeats – to Brazil and Sweden – had already put paid to any hopes of progressing past the group stage on their country’s FIFA tournamant debut but the sight of Ageva calmly lifting the ball over the onrushing Korean goalkeeper in the 16th minute gave the hosts some tangible reward for the rapid improvement shown throughout their campaign.

Ageva’s goal lifted the excitable home crowd into a frenzy and for 21 wild minutes in Port Moresby’s National Football Stadium, Papua New Guinea were locked at 1-1 with the Asian heavyweights.

Parity remained until eight minutes before half-time when Kim So Hyang netted the first goal of her hat-trick. Two goals in first-half stoppage-time ended the contest, but there was no denying Papua New Guinea’s fighting spirit. The PNG players scrambled desperately in defence, while busy goalkeeper Faith Kasiray was in inspired form at times.

Korea DPR omitted several key players from their starting side with only one point needed to guarantee top spot. The match started as per expectations with Ri Un Sim netting on just seven minutes.

However, then came the moment the home crowd had longed for as lone PNG striker Ageva somehow burst through a couple of would-be tacklers and lifted a bouncing ball over the advancing Rim Yong Hwa and into the net.

Korea DPR responded by making two immediate substitutions, and they eventually settled into their methodical groove. The second-half pressure was immense at times, but the local heroines concede just twice more until another was added in injury time.

Papua New Guinea’s FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign has now ended, but the legacy they have left is invaluable to women’s football in the country.

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