Amoy Ghoshal profiles tournament favourites DPR Korea ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup.
DPR Korea are the highest ranked team in the competition.
Among the participants at the AFC Challenge Cup, they are the only team to play at the biggest stage - FIFA World Cup. Playing in the 1966 World Cup, they famously defeated Italy to reach the quarterfinal, thus making them the first Asian team to reach that stage. They lost to Eusebio’s Portugal 3-5 in the quarterfinal but their entry into the quarters was a remarkable achievement and has been bettered only once by an Asian team (South Korea 2002 World Cup).
They have done reasonably well at the Asian stage with a fourth place finish at the 1980 Asian Cup. But they haven’t been consistent over the years and that has had an effect on their FIFA Ranking.
They are still in contention to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but their focus will now be on the AFC Challenge Cup for which they are the leading contenders.
Ju Kwang Min
The 18 year old was part of DPR Korea Team that played at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups in 2005 and 2007 respectively. The DPR Korea squad for the AFC Challenge Cup largely consists of U-21 players, with most players without a senior cap. Kwang-Min, who plays for Kigwancha FC, is one of the few members with senior appearances. He has played in two World Cup Qualifying matches.
Ri Chol Myong
This 20 year old midfielder is known for his work rate in the midfield and like Min, was part of the team that played at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Championships. He plays for Pyongyang City and has been part of the senior team recently.
Pak Chol Min Another player with good experience at youth level, Chol Min is a striker who plays for North Korean club Rimyongsu. He has scored three goals at senior level and will surely be hungrier. A good showing in this competition will help him earn a regular place at the senior team for the World Cup Qualifiers.
The North Korean has been in charge of the national team for quite sometime now. He is using the AFC Challenge Cup to test out the younger players and has given his regulars rest for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. Despite having a young squad, considering the quality of the other teams, Hoon will be expected to guide his team to glory.
DPR Korea have been pitted in Group B at the AFC Challenge Cup 2008. They have to confront Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka for a place in the knock-out stages.
Form (Last Five Games)
Korea Republic 0-0 DPR Korea 22nd June 2008. Seoul, Korea Republic
DPR Korea 2-0 Jordan 14th June 2008. Pyongyang, DPR Korea
DPR Korea 1-0 Turkmenistan 7th June2008. Pyongyang, DPR Korea
Turkmenistan 0-0 DPR Korea 2nd June 2008 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
DPR Korea 0-0 Korea Republic 26th March 2008. Shanghai, China
Goalkeepers: Ju Kwang Min (1), RI Yu Chol (21), RI Yun Chol (20).
Defenders: Han Song Hyok (22), Jon Kwang Ik (8), Mun Kyong Nam (4), Pak Chol Ryong (2), Pak Nam Chol (5), RI Kwang Hok (3), Ro Hak Su (17), Yun Yong Il (7).
Midfielders: An Hyok IL (18), Choe Myong Ho (19), Kim Kuk Jin (15), Kim Kyong Il (23), Pak Song Chol (9), RI Chol Myong (26), RI Jin Hyok (13).
Forwards: Ho Jong Min (16), Kim Kum Il (6), Pak Chol Min (11), RI Hung Ryong (10), So Kwang Chol (12), So Tae Song (24).