There was a ripple in the sea of football when North Korea (or Korea DPR as they are politically known) qualified for the world cup. The have the lowest world ranking (105) and only one player who plies his trade outside of the viciously guarded borders. The question is; are they destined to make waves this summer?
I see you out there; all shaking your heads in a knowing manner. Just remember this; the nation of ‘Our Dear and Great Leader Kim Jong-il’ has been to a world cup before. In 1966 (yes, that year) Korea came to England, with the global community snickering in the thought of the total capitulation that was about to ensue.
They powered through the group stage, taking out Italy (a favorite) and progressing to the quarters, where they took a 3-0 lead against Portugal before visibly imploding, and losing 5-3. The expectation for their campaign in that year was even lower than we see today.
And that brings us back to this year, and to the title. “The world watches North Korea’s campaign with interest; will it’s citizens?” The communist regime (headed by pint-sized madman Kim Jong-il) has decided in it’s infinite wisdom to display the World Cup in the media only if they succeed. This still is a cause of general meriment all over the earth; I know that I laughed.
The main danger to the team is the very nature of life in their country. Manager of the team Kim Jong-Hun, seems to be a popular figure among the communist elite, but will it always remain that way. In a nation which craves for the international respect it is struggling so hard to earn, failure in the World Cup isn’t going to help their trials, no matter how effective the cover up back home is.
But at the end of the day, it becomes hard to judge the internal affairs of this country. They are insular to the extent no other country on earth manages, and for this reason we have seen nothing of any of the players that will feature. We don’t know what formation or style they will play, and we don’t know how in tune they are with the rest of the world.
Could they create another moment of classical ignorance, like Ilunga Mwepu’s freekick clearance for Zaire? Our total lack of awareness hasn’t been helped one bit by their warm up. Here’s the run down of the three games organised so far;
-Verus Oman, played in China. Cancelled the night before after the players came down with food poisoning.
-Away in Chile, cancelled due to the tragic earthquake.
-Away in Venuzala, in the manner of any number of poorly thought out school trips, they managed to lose all of the kit on the way over from Chile. Borrowed Venuzala’s away kit, but the game was called off after 20 minutes due to ‘bad light’.
-Verus Nigeria in Dubai, cancelled because the Super Eagles (Nigeria) didn’t want to pay the travel expenses to get to the venue.
Kim Jong-il is used to acting like the whole world is against him, perhaps it is against Kim Jong-Hun, then. Jong-Hun has had a bit of a moan about the conditions he is expected to build a team to face the group of death (Brasil, Ivory Coast and Portugal) in, but surely he must be having nightmares about a short fat man wearing sun glasses standing over his bed. And with reports emerging last month that the country’s economic minister had been shot for the financial failures that have hit the entire world…
In conclusion, we’ve got to feel that more than any other of the 32 nations, North Korea will provide a total mystery. It’s a hard one to predict, but we should look at their group. Brasil: Favorites, Ivory Coast: Best African nation, Portugal: free scoring, 9th in the Fifa World Rankings. Those are three nations who all want to progress, and who will all count it as failure if they finish third. All expect easy points against the ‘Chomilla” (a Korean mythical horse which gives it’s name to the team).
In Group A, or even Group C, maybe some hope, but not in the dreaded Group G. Prediction: A narrow loss to Brasil in the first game, followed by thrashings from Ivory Coast then Portugal; dropping out at the first hurdle. How do you think they’ll fare, and what do you know of this team?
To read more from the author, Oli, visit: Barnsley Blog and World Cup Barnsley Blog