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China, North Korea enters Asian Championship final
( 2003-06-20 09:26) (Reuters)

China and North Koren beat their opponents respectively at the Asian Championship semi-finals and qualified for the Women's World Cup.

Chinese striker Sun Wen poses for photographers with a Chinese soccer fan in Bangkok.
North Korea and China will play the Asian Championship final on Saturday after the Chinese beat South Korea 3-1. China already had qualified for the World cup as host nation before the tournament was moved to the United States because of the SARS virus.

China took the lead after sustained pressure in the opening 10 minutes. Bai Jie connected in the 12th minute when her dipping right-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area looped over the head of South Korean goalie Jung Ho-jung.

China doubled its lead seven minutes later as Bai beat the offside trap and calmly lifted the ball over the advancing Korean keeper.

South Korea midfielder Kim Ji-eun scored in the 26th minute with a spectacular 25-yard shot that scorched past China goalkeeper Xiao Zhen.

Sun Wen, China's internationally acclaimed striker, clinched it by beating two defenders to score from 12 yards.

China lost in a penalty kick shootout in the 1999 World Cup final to the United States.

North Korea qualified for the Women's World Cup by beating Japan 3-0 in the Asian Championship on Thursday.

In a repeat of the 2001 final, which North Korea won 2-0, the defending champions stifled Japan strikers Mio Otani and Homare Sawa, and dominated the midfield.

"We are very pleased to qualify for the World Cup," said North Korean coach Ri Song-gun. "We will do our best to improve over the coming months so that we can show the full strength of Asian football to the world."

North Korea took the lead after seven minutes. Jin Pyol-hui got free down the right side and her pinpoint cross went to Ri Kum-suk. Ri's header found the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Ri doubled North Korea's lead 10 minutes before halftime, scoring her 13th goal of the tournament with a left-footed kick.

With seven minutes to go, Japan's own goal made it 3-0.

In the other semifinal,

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