North Korea attempting to avenge ’66 loss
The last time the North made it this far was at the 1966 England World Cup. The underdog then shocked the world by upsetting Italy 1-0 to gain a spot in the quarterfinals.
In their attempt to reach the semifinals, however, the North Koreans lost 5-3 to Portugal after a dominating performance by Eusebio, despite taking an initial 3-0 lead. To this day, the North Korean side holds the title as the first Asian team to progress beyond the first round of the World Cup finals.
In this year’s World Cup, the North Korean team is drawn with Portugal, Brazil and Ivory Coast in Group G. The team lost 1-2 to Brazil on Tuesday.
North Korea’s goal to relive their glory of 44 years ago is apparent by the words printed on their team bus in South Africa: “Chosun, win like in 1966.”
The team’s midfielder, An Yong-hak, recently said at a press conference that North Korea “will try to get revenge” for its loss 44 years ago.
Leading the North Korean offense will be Jong Tae-se, the forward for Kawasaki Frontale in the Japanese pro league, backed by Hong Yong-jo, Mun In-guk and An providing offense and midfield support.
Ji Yun-nam - who scored against Brazil in Tuesday’s match - Ri Kwang-chon, Nam Song-chol, Pak Chol-jin and Ri Jun-il are expected to show a tenacious defense.
Observers expect the North to again employ a defense-heavy formation and aim for goal opportunities by swiftly penetrating the Portuguese defense on counterattack plays. However, North Korea is expected to employ a more aggressive style compared to their opening match against Brazil, as chances of advancing to the knockout rounds will vanish if they lose two games in a row.
Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the biggest attention-grabbers in the South African World Cup, is expected to spearhead the Portuguese offense.
After their scoreless draw with Ivory Coast in the group opener, Portugal is expected to mobilize a strong offense to raise points by not only wining the match but also through goal differences with North Korea.
More in Baseball
Eight possible outcomes as top teams fight over playoff spots
Almost everything still to play for as KBO enters final week
NC Dinos clinch first KBO regular season title
Choi Ji-man is first Korean to pick up a World Series hit
Eagles catcher Choi Jae-hoon reflects on tough season