North Korea: Nuclear Technology, Missles and Plenty of Footballing Talent. All three are no surprise though!

If you are a member of generation Y or after, you probably don’t realize that North Korea has a history of performing well at the FIFA World Cup in the years it has appeared. In fact in the 1960’s Korea DPR went on to the quarter finals after handing Italy a 1-0 defeat. They went on to score 3 goals in the first 30 minutes against Portugal, only for the Portugese to storm back to a 5-3 victory. Believe it or not, this meant that the Korean DPR side is the first ever in Asia to progress past the group stage of the World Cup. Take that South Korea!

While many have questioned publicly and privately as to how random the FIFA World Cup team drawing really is after the North Koreans were moved into what is seemingly the ULTIMATE group of death in recent memory. A little too convenient, even in my opinion to have one of the western worlds largest enemies slotted into the worst possible position, through a process that FIFA controls. Conspiracy theories however are Pakistan’s specialty, so I won’t get into it.

The 2-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil highlighted a couple of important points. Firstly, the Korean DPR team didn’ get to the World Cup finals on luck, they did it with consistent defensive performances which were on display for the world to see and an effective counter attack strategy that has served them well throughout the qualification campaign. I had the pleasure of seeing the highlights of their qualification campaign and it was clear that they were out to play attractive but effective football from the very onset.

That Brazil had to come up with two incredibly clinical goals, one through a brilliant Robinhio through ball and the other via an enterprising Maicon, just goes to show what it will take to get through that vaulted defense. If Ivory Coast and Portugal have the kind of talent required to pull off a repeat of Brazil’s performance, I would think they should count themselves lucky. If one were to be honest with themselves, another draw between Korea and any of the other teams in the group and another Brazilian win will blow the group wide open. Don’t be too surprised if Kim Jong Il sticks around to see knockout rounds with an injured Drogba and a goalless Christiano Ronaldo.

The Korean DPR’s performance however, highlighted an incredibly visible paradigm shift in the way that a World Cup will have to be approached from now on. Every single team has a good chance of drawing or winning against any other team, regardless of their opponents stature in this format.

The only pre-requisite is the underdog having a relatively decent day on the pitch and a spot of luck. If anything this just goes to show that the level of World Football in Asia and Africa has increased exponentially, with sides like Ivory Coast holding traditional footballing powers like Portugal to 0-0 draws, if not deserving more in the bargain.

The United States has definitely brought with it a well organized team that has a lot of potential and Ghana is very much in this world cup despite having their star midfielder in Essien. These are teams that eight years ago, would have not even received honorable mention!

So one thing is for sure, the idea of introducing local leagues in Asian and African countries has picked up some serious steam and some 50 years post colonization, it is almost inevitable that a team from either continent will lift the world cup. Probably even in our lifetimes, as incredibly hard to believe that once was. That ladies and gentlemen, is the power of the global game that is Football.

Advertisements