Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Portugal, Ivory Coast
There is no need to say much about this group except to call it what it is and that is the ‘Group of Death’. Brazil, Portugal, and the Ivory Coast are three world-class sides and will battle it out for two places that lead to the Round of 16. While North Korea can’t expect much thanks to this draw, the team have done enough in recent friendlies to suggest they have some quality and won’t be blown out by astronomical scores as some experts predict.
What Should Happen
It’s been 44 years since North Korea appeared in the World Cup and fans of the side will be hoping for a performance in South Africa akin to what the national team was able to do back in 1966. In that World Cup, the North Koreans shocked the world by defeating Italy 1-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the tournament. There the stage was set for another giantkilling as the team were 3-0 ahead of Portugal. However, the great Eusebio inspired a comeback that has gone down in the annals of World Cup history and North Korea were eventually beaten 5-3 in one of the tournament’s most memorable matches.
The odds are against such an inspiring performance this time around in a group that features three heavyweights in the form of Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast. Any result against these world football giants would be a shock that would surpass the team’s exploits in England ’66. The most likely scenario will see the team play spoiler by keeping down the opposition’s scoring due to a tight defense.
TALE OF THE TAPE
FIFA Ranking: 106
World Cup Appearances: 1 (1966)
World Cup Record (W-D-L): 1-1-2
Best World Cup Finish: Quarterfinals, 1966
Road To South Africa: Qualified with a 2nd Place Finish in Asia’s Group 2