North Korea have to be the unluckiest team in this year’s world cup. They have qualified for the first time since 1966 only to draw favourites Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast in their Group G. No one expects North Korea to make it past the group stages and repeat history they had created in 1966 when they had beaten Italy to progress to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately it seems this time North Korea might have to live up to Karl Marx’s famous quote about History repeating itself the second time as farce. This match is the biggest possible mismatch in terms of the most recent FIFA rankings at the 2010 World Cup.
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Brazil, like they always are, are among the favourites to lift the World Cup 2010. They are the most successful nation in the history of the tournament having won it a record 5 times and the only one team to have played in every tournament. Brazil is managed by Carlos Dunga who has often been criticized for not playing ‘attractive’ football and had left many people stunned with his decision to leave Ronaldinho out of the Brazil World Cup squad. The pressure is on for Brazil who are expected not only to win the match against North Korea but also to win it in samba style with plenty of goals. This is Carlos Dunga’s first job as a manager but that shouldn’t bother the Brazilian as he has an enviable squad made up of world-class players like Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Dani Alves, Maicon and the young skillful speedy Ramirez . Their goal keeper Julio Caesar who returns to goal after missing a friendly against Tanzania due to a back injury and is absolutely crucial to Brazil’s win. The only thing not in Brazil’s favor is that their mid-fielders Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo aren’t in form and the uncreative ways of the experienced Elano, who in all probability will be selected to start ahead of Ramirez.
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North Korea are managed by Kim Jong-hun, who has at his disposal Jong Tae-se who is dubbed as the Asian Wayne Rooney and AFC Young Player of the Year for 2007 Kim Kum-il, who is the only North Korean to ever win an Asian Football award. The manager did a great job with his team in qualifiers and will need to apply all his defenses to keep out the creative Brazilians. North Korea had named striker Myong-Won as a third choice goalkeeper, thus taking an additional striker but that tactic has backfired after FIFA declared that the striker can only be used between the sticks. So that leaves North Korea with a lone-striker up front with five defenders and four across the midfield. They can trust their captain Hong Kong Jo to play a very physical tough tackling game.
The fact that the Brazilian realise that this would be their only somewhat easy match in the Group, doesn’t make things easier for North Korea either. Brazil will want to score as many goals as possible against the North Koreans and the same can be expected by all the other two teams in the group who will target North Korea to improve their chances should goal-difference come into play to decide this group’s first and second place. To say that it will be tough for North Korea would be an understatement but if they can put up any sort of battle against Brazil, it would do wonders for their reputation the world over. If nothing else the freezing cold weather in Johannesburg should work in North Korea’s favour a[part from the fact that they are an unknown quantity for the fancied Brazilians.
“We have to congratulate the Asian teams, they have evolved tremendously over the years. They are no longer the weaker team. Sometimes we believe that a certain team is the best, but football does not lie. We have to respect our opponents and do everything in our grasp to win.” – Carlos Dunga, Brazilian manager.
“I am going to play to win. I know Brazil are one of the favourites for the title but the Korean mentality is very strong.” – Kin Jong Hun, North Korea manager.
Stars to Watch Out For
Brazil: Kaka, Júlio César, Luís Fabiano, Dani Alvez,
North Korea: Jong Tae-se, Kim Kum-il
Min Jong-chol was North Korea’s joint-top scorer during qualifying, finding the net four times despite playing only two games.
This is North Korea’s first appearance in the World Cup for 44 years – the fourth-longest interval between World Cup participations
Brazil have won all 15 meetings with sides not from Europe or South America, keeping 13 clean sheets