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N. Korea Pledges `Big Surprise` at World Cup

Posted May. 26, 2010 22:54,   


The North Korean soccer team looked confident Tuesday in making a rare public appearance. Players did not try to hide or conceal themselves as before.

Coach Kim Jong Hun told a news conference after a training session in Altach, Austria, “I’m well aware of the assessments made of our team. But they’ll make a new discovery about our brand of soccer through (the World Cup).”

Seeded 106th in the world, North Korea has been placed in Group G, dubbed “the group of death,” along with top-seeded Brazil, third ranked Portugal, and No. 27 Côte d`Ivoire.

On analyses saying the North is the weakest team in its group, Kim said, “We have a strong and challenging spirit that will enable us to overcome such predictions. We expect to at least advance to the second round of 16.”

“Our predecessors elevated the status of (North) Korea at the 1966 World Cup in England. We’ll perform well at this year’s World Cup as well, and make the world perceive our brand of soccer from a new perspective.”

North Korean star striker Jong Tae Se, who plays for Kawasaki Frontale in Japan’s pro league and is nicknamed “the people’s Wayne Rooney,” said, “I want to score a goal in every game. I particularly want to score goals against Brazil and Portugal.”

He said he wants to beat Brazil because it is the world’s strongest team and Portugal because it defeated the North in the 1966 World Cup quarterfinals.

“Our team and Brazil will advance to the round of 16,” Jong said.

“The dominant public perception is that we and South Africa are the weakest teams to play in the World Cup. But we have a mental spirit stronger than Germany’s. We also have a sense of decisiveness and trust (among teammates) stronger than any other country. Our players are agile and make small moves efficiently. Nobody knows what’ll happen. We have potential.”

Oddsmakers say, however, that Brazil, Portugal or Côte d`Ivoire will secure berths to advance to the second round.

The North Korean team moved Monday to Dornbirn, Austria, after opening training camp May 10 in Anzere, Switzerland, and started a second round of training camp.

The North played Greece to a 2-2 draw Tuesday in an exhibition game and will arrive in South Africa June 1.