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North Korea’s Extra Striker/Keeper

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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will go to the World Cup 2010 as one of the most interesting teams of all time. As we know, DPRK is not an ordinary country, it is the only country in the world which is currently still adopting a total Soviet style command economy. Also, it is branded by the USA and its allies as a rogue state and also accused of building up an arsenal of nuclear weapons to wreak havoc in this world. South Korea also recently accused North Korea of sinking one of their ships. In football, North Korea is as mysterious and intriguing as the country’s domestic and international affairs. Nothing much is known about this team besides their star striker Jong Tae-Se (dubbed “The People’s Rooney”) who is playing in Japan’s J-League and virtually nothing is known about their domestic league let alone the individual teams in which a bulk of the North Korean squad are playing at (Such as Amrokgang and April 25 clubs). Even the football team has also been accused of a “rogue team” by some pundits in the media recently as Kim Jong Hun, their manager called up Kim Myong-Won, a striker and registered him as the third choice goalkeeper. Many accused North Korea of trying to circumvent the squad rules by registering an extra keeper to get an extra attacking option. It seems to have backfired as FIFA recently ruled out that the striker would only be allowed to play as a goalkeeper and not as an outfield player. Has the move really backfired? If so, what are the North Koreans going to do to once again circumvent the latest FIFA ruling imposed on them?

First up, the latest FIFA ruling might have been the death knell to whatever North Korea was planning by calling up Kim Myong-Won. This scenario hinges on the fact that North Korea has been busted as FIFA has seen through their plan and prevented them from having an advantage of having an extra striker compared to the rest of the teams that call up three goalkeepers into their squads. At the time of writing, the manager seems to be okay with the ruling and has gone on to include the striker as a goalkeeper as per FIFA’s ruling. It might mean that Kim Myong-Won, at the age of 26, would become this World Cup’s Theo Walcott. Fans are sure to remember when Sven Goran Eriksson called up Theo Walcott into England’s squad in 2006 and he did not even play for a single minute in the tournament. Thus, since Kim Myong-Won can only play as a goalkeeper, he might just be consigned to watching North Korea from the bench as it is very unlikely in the World Cup that the first and second choice goalkeepers are both injured and thus there’s a need for the third choice to be called to action.

However, even if the striker can only play as a goalkeeper, the North Korean manager might still have or or more aces in his sleeve. A pundit in one of the top soccer websites claimed that Myong-Won might be fielded as a goalkeeper in the tournament and just like how Kim Jong-il is being accused of keeping a “secret weapon”, the striker would also be fielded as a “secret weapon”, especially during the dying minutes of the game when North Korea would need an extra man for corner kicks and free kicks just like how any goalkeepers, in which Peter Schmeichel is the most notable would do at the last minute (and he scored). However, if this scenario does pan out in the tournament, I would add to that pundit’s opinion that if the striker really plays as a goalkeeper, he would run forward in any corner kick and free kick to get that extra finishing edge while a defender would probably be assigned at the back to guard the goal against a long punt towards the otherwise be empty goal.

Another scenario that might even pan out would be for Myong-Won to take a leaf straight out of Rene Higuita’s book and simply juts employ a gung-ho approach and participate in the attack as often as possible. In other words, just like how the aforementioned pundit mentioned, it might not a leaf out of Rene Higuita, but from a much bigger book, the Total Football! It would be interesting to see North Korea play with 12 men like that, but it could work two ways. First, North Korea might be lauded as the team which attempts to revive the great Dutch team of old and even going one step further as the goalkeeper is now involved in the outfield play, or secondly, if what happened to Rene Higuita in World Cup 1990 against Cameroon happens again, North Korea would become the clown and the total laughing stock of the tournament.

Perhaps, we can even take the leaf out of the USA’s book and accuse Kim Jong-Hun, the manager, as a rogue manager, just like how North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is always being accused of being rogue. Perhaps, the scenarios listed above are just too bombastic and exaggerated. Perhaps, Kim Jong-Hun was just executing a dark ploy by North Korea to simply create controversies and generally wreak havoc of the tournament. Or perhaps going even murkier, it is perhaps a form of psychological manipulation in North Korea’s part in their  preparations to try to go through a group of death consisting of Ivory Coast, Portugal, and Brazil. In my opinion, any forms of mind games or anything of that sort is even understandable as North Korea is embarking in their “Mission Impossible”. I mean, if Thierry Henry and his team got away scot-free for the extreme atrocity against all Irish people, I am sure it is okay as well for North Korea to employ a little psychological operation in the World Cup to try to gain as much ground and cutting edge as possible to try to negotiate their World Cup group.

In any case, whichever scenario really pans out in the World Cup, it will surely be a very interesting, intriguing, and memorable World Cup for all North Koreans as their country finally deserves the kind of spotlight that they deserve after all those political turmoils that have been surrounding them since the Korean War all the way until now (the war is still technically ongoing as there’s no peace treaty whatsoever since the Korean War). Also, the world in general will finally also be able to view the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in such a different and positive light compared to what the media that they are exposed to have been denouncing and condemning them all the time. Let us all enjoy the DPRK’s performance in this World Cup and for one, I am certainly looking forward to the DRPK springing even more surprises than 1966.

Written by cp

09/06/2010 at 11:11

Posted in Football, World Cup

Tagged with ,

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