Since there isn't a North Korea correspondent for ESPN Soccernet, I feel obligated to write at least a few sentences on the Brazil - North Korea match. Putting the most current political drama and differences aside - for those who are not aware of the (sad) history and situation of the Korea Peninsula, I do want to stress that NK is still South Korea's brother, and I do look forward to seeing a unified Korea sometime in the near future. I will be rooting for them for their remaining World Cup matches, and hope you will get behind them, too.
In fact, I predict North and South Koreas in the World Cup final!!!! ...Haha, just kidding. Just checking to see you were paying attention.
Brazil 2 - 1 North Korea
Before the match started, we all knew how Brazil were going to come out and play. ...To play like Brazilians. But after the match, the focus of the match is all about North Korea's well-executed defense.
I do give North Korea A LOT of credit for their hard-fought effort against the 97-time (or something like that) world champions Brazil. NK's team defense was hard to penetrate, and the Koreans kept the game scoreless, and kept Dunga and Brazil fans nervous ...until Maicon's masterful 55th "Brazuka" squeeze.
The confidence generated from that led to Elano's goal, which was nicely assisted by Robinho, but the North Koreans still ended the match with a smile. Ji Yun-Nam's 89th minute goal was practically gifted thanks to defensive errors, but still - it was a well-deserved consolation prize.
Just like everyone else, I have very little knowledge on North Korean football, but I did know about #9 Jung Dae-Seh (or Jong Tae-Se - however you want to spell it)'s amazing speed. And it was obvious that the Brazilians too were fore-warned about him - the defenders were all over him, and didn't give much space for him to work with. Because of this, the frustrated Japan-based forward (he was born, raised, and plays professionally there) ended up repeatedly blasting cannon shots that were way off target.
Despite the loss, it was not a lost cause, in my view. Every "expert" on every publications I've read dismissed NK as if they were high school JV basketball team playing against 3 top NBA teams - without ever having seen them play once (OK, I don't know that - but how many times have you seen North Korea play?). The ever-improving AFC is now harder to qualify out of, especially with the difficult away games in the Middle Eastern countries (they're just as passionate about football as much as anyone in the world). With South Korea and Japan winning their first group matches, and with North Korea's display today, I hope Asian football will be viewed with a little more respect. Un poco, por favor...
Congrats to North Korea for the good fight against the world's best. Losing by one goal against Brazil is a great achievement, by any standard. And if they were able to keep up this well against the Brazilians, I wouldn't completely rule out an upset against Ivory Coast or Potugal.
Oh - and now that Ivory Coast vs Portugal ended up in a 0-0 tie, what about this scenario?
- Brazil beats both Ivory Coast and Portugal by 2 or more goals each.
- North Korea ties against Ivory Coast and Portugal.
Group of Death? No problem! ...Hmm, am I getting ahead of myself? ...Let's wait and see.
As always, please feel free to leave your thoughts below.