09 June 2010

North Korea can beat Brazil, says 'Asian Rooney'

By John Weaver (AFP) – 19 hours ago

TEMBISA, South Africa — North Korea's best-known player Jong Tae-Se said Tuesday he hopes the team can change the image of the isolated nation and believes they could topple mighty Brazil.

Jong, who plays in Japan's J-League and is known as Asia's Wayne Rooney, spoke to reporters before North Korea's first open training session at Makhulong stadium outside Johannesburg.

"We want to change the North Korean image," he said, adding that the major strength of the 105th-ranked "Chollima" was their powerful team spirit.

"Our core mentality is like Germany, Germany's spirit," he said.

"We're brave. We can win against Brazil. Everybody thinks about that game is we can't win but we have a brave heart and brave spirits."

North Korea, better known for its nuclear weapons programme and dubious rights record, were drawn in the same group as Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal.

Jong admitted he was "very surprised" by the draw but said he is happy to pit his wits against football's big guns, starting with five-times World Cup winners Brazil in their Group G clash on June 15.

And he said he had picked up tips on the legendary South American giants from Brazilian team-mates at Kawasaki Frontale.

Jong holds South Korean nationality like his parents, descendants of immigrants from colonial Korea. But he has managed to obtain a North Korean passport after growing up at patriotic pro-Pyongyang schools in Japan.

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