Indian National Football Team: Know Your Rivals - North Korea

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AIFF Media
Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers' opponents in their second game of the 2019 Intercontinental Cup...

QUICK FACTS


Country: DPR Korea

FIFA Ranking: 122

Last match played: Syria 5-2 North Korea (8 July 2019)

Coach: Yun Jong Su


TEAM PROFILE


North Korea Football Team Asian Cup 2019

North Korea made their first FIFA World Cup appearance way back in 1966, where they reached the quarter-finals in England, only to be thrashed by Eusebio's Portugal. The next watershed moment arrived in the 2010 World Cup, where they faced mighty Brazil in the group stage, making up the numbers.

However, they are yet to come close to becoming a top force in Asia despite their twin global conquests. The farthest they have gone in the Asian Cup was the semi-finals in 1980. In the three previous editions, including the one earlier this year, they were sent back home straight in the group stages itself.

Earlier this decade, there came a time when they were pushed into the lower echelon in Asian football. A third-placed finish in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup in India followed successive triumphs in the 2010 and 2012 editions, thereby earning them tickets to the 2011 and 2015 Asian Cups respectively.

The Intercontinental Cup would be a reunion of sorts as North Korea included, three of the teams that participated in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup assemble in India once again. 


RECENT PERFORMANCES


North Korea Football Team Asian Cup 2019

Currently, the whipping boys of Asia, winless in their last seven games, six losses on the trot, North Korea are between a wretched spell. Since their last win, which came in November 2018, North Korea have conceded 28 goals in seven games and scored only four.

At the Asian Cup in UAE, Saudi Arabia thrashed them 4-0 followed by a 6-0 beating by eventual champions Qatar. Their final nail in the coffin at the group stage came against Lebanon in a 4-1 loss, but somehow, they have managed to save face by scoring a goal at least.

In more humiliation, they have failed to qualify for the regional EAFF East Asian Football Championship to be held in South Korea later this year, with minnows Hong Kong progressing over them.

Even Syria beat them in the opening round of the Intercontinental Cup 5-2, only a win against India would see them stay alive in the quadrangular competition in Ahmedabad.


PLAYERS TO WATCH


Jong Il Gwan: Captaining the side in this competition, the 26-year-old has 22 goals in 64 caps for the Chollima. The right winger has had spells at Swiss clubs FC Luzern and FC Wil. On 24 November 2010, he was crowned AFC Youth Player of the Year. He was shortly linked with a transfer move to Newcastle United in 2012. 

Jong Il Gwan North Korea

Sim Hyon Jin: A silver medal winner at the 2014 Asian Games with the U23 side, the April 25 man is a utility player who started as a left-back but now plays as a central midfielder. The 28-year-old was registered with English side Wigan Athletic in his formative years.


FULL SQUAD


Goalkeepers: An Tae Song, Sin Hyok;

Defenders: Jang Kuk Chol, Ri Yong Chol, Ri Thong Il, Ri Chang Ho, Kim Bom, Pak Song;

Midfielders: Jong Il Gwan, Ri Un Il, Sim Hyon Jin, Ri Un Chol, Hong Song, Ri Jin;

Forwards: Han Thae Hyok, Kim Yong Il, Choe Song, Rim Hyok.

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