June 24, 2011

Group C Preview: Korea DPR

Korea DPR (#8)
Region: AFC
Coach: Kim Kwang Min
How They Qualified: Finished 2nd in Asian Cup.
Prior Cups:
2007: Lost in Quarterfinals
2003: Group Stage
1999: Group Stage
1995: DNQ
1991: DNQ
Returnees from 2007 WWC: (2) Song Jong Sun, Jong Pok Sim.

Roster (Average Age: 20.88)
Hong Myong HuiGKApril 252012/0
Kim Chol OkGKApril 25161/0
Ri Jin SimGKWolmido201/0
Jon Hong YonDFApril 25191/0
Ho Un ByolDFApril 25197/0
Song Jong SunDFAmrokgang3014/0
Paek Sol HuiDFApril 25173/0
Yu Jong HuiDFApril 25257/0
Jong Pok SimDFApril 252514/1
Ri Un HyangDFAmrokgang231/0
Kim Myong GumMFRimyongsu202/0
Kim Su GyongMFApril 25163/0
Jo Yun MiMFApril 252430/6
Ri Ye GyongMFAmrokgang2114/0
Jon Myong HwaMFApril 251711/2
Kim Un JuMFApril 25184/0
Kim Chung SimMFApril 252014/0
Yun Hyon HiFWApril 251811/2
Ra Un SimFWAmrokgang2220/7
Choe Mi GyongFWRimyongsu202/0
Kwon Song HwaFWApril 25192/0

Note: Caps/Goals information for Korea DPR is incomplete.

Recent Matches:
6/14/11CanadaFriendlyL 0-2
5/24/11BelgiumFriendlyL 0-1
5/21/11GermanyFriendlyL 0-2
5/18/11HollandFriendlyT 1-1
4/17/11ChinaFriendlyW 1-0
11/22/10JapanAsian GamesL 0-1
11/20/10Korea RepublicAsian GamesW 3-1
11/18/10JapanAsian GamesT 0-0
11/16/10ThailandAsian GamesW 2-0
5/30/10AustraliaAsian CupL 1-1 (4-5PK)
5/27/10ChinaAsian CupW 1-0
5/24/10JapanAsian CupL 1-2
5/22/10MyanmarAsian CupW 2-0
5/20/10ThailandAsian CupW 3-0
5/4/10NigeriaFriendlyW 3-0
5/2/10NigeriaFriendlyW 1-0

It seems as though Korea DPR is always shrouded in a bit of mystery. This team is no different. They had almost a complete player turnover from their 2007 World Cup squad which lost in the quarterfinals to Germany 3-0. That was the best showing ever for Korea.

What’s even more astounding is that nearly half of their World Cup roster wasn’t even with the senior team when they qualified at the Asian Cup last May. It is an extremely young team with an average age of under 21 years old. Many of these players have progressed up the ranks on the U-17 then the U-20 team. Six players played on the 2008 U-17 championship team and nine played on the 2010 U-20 team that made it to the quarterfinals.

Korea DPR finished second in the 2010 Asian Cup, which served as the qualifier for this year’s World Cup, losing the championship game on penalty kicks to Australia. They followed that with a runner-up finish to Japan at the Asian Games last fall. As for 2011, they have played only a handful of friendlies. Most recently, they played four World Cup warm-up games, tying Holland and losing to Germany, Belgium, and Canada.

So what do we know about Korea DPR? Well, for one, you can count on them being a good technical soccer team. That has been the hallmark of nearly every Korean team. Second, their games will all be low scoring affairs. They rarely pile on goals, even in matches that they dominate. Third, they will be competitive.

Probably their best player is midfielder Jo Yun Mi. Jo was the Most Valuable Player in the Asian Cup and scored three goals in that competition. She is definitely a player to watch in this World Cup. She is considered strong both offensively and defensively and is proficient at organizing the Korean attack.

Two players that did return from that 2007 World Cup team are defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim. At 30 years of age, Song is the senior member of this team. She generally starts at outside back.

The goalkeeper is Hong Myong Hui, the starter for both the 2008 U-17 team and the 2010 U-20 team. She is just 19 years old. Hong posted three shutouts in five matches in the Asian Cup and another two in four matches at the Asian Games.

Outside of Jo, Korea’s most dangerous offensive player is Ra Un Sim. She scored three goals in the Asian Games last year, including a two goal outing against the Korea Republic. Among the younger players, Jon Myong Hwa could be a player to watch. She scored four goals in the U-17 World Cup in 2008.

While the Koreans are young and lacking experience, they cannot be dismissed. The young players have played together for several years in junior competition, so their inexperience is less than it appears. Korea is always a tough team to play and they will present a challenge for their Group C opponents. If Jo and Hong play well and the young players can come together, this team could make it to the quarterfinals.