29 November 2011

Japan parliament debates loss to N. Korea

Japan's 1-0 World Cup qualifying away defeat by North Korea has stirred a debate in parliament with one lawmaker claiming the Blue Samurai could have been kidnapped if they had won in Pyongyang.

But Tokyo on Tuesday said it was not considering filing a protest with the North Korean authorities about alleged mistreatment of the Japan team before and during the November 15 match.

The Blue Samurai were held up for four hours on arrival at Pyongyang airport and roundly booed when the Japanese national anthem was played ahead of the match before an extremely partisan crowd of 50,000 at the Kim Il-Sung stadium.

"I presume that, if Japan won by 2-0 or 3-0, our players themselves would have been abducted," conservative opposition lawmaker Tetsushi Sakamoto told a lower house committee on Monday, according to Japanese media.

He praised Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni, despite the defeat which has been largely attributed to his use of a large number of substitutes for the starting line-up against North Korea.

The match result did not affect the final standing of Group C, in which Japan and Uzbekistan have already advanced to the final qualifying round, with North Korea and Tajikistan out of contention.

"The lion's share of the credit should go to manager Zac (Zaccheroni) as he let the team lose by 1-0," Sakamoto said. "Judging from the way he used the players, I presume he was resolutely prepared for a draw or defeat by the narrowest of margins."

Foreign Minister Kochiro Gemba told the committee: "I understand various things occurred (at the match) including unfortunate incidents."

At Pyongyang airport, immigration and customs officials held up the Japanese team for four hours while chiding them for laughing and confiscating "contraband" such as bananas, chewing gum, and instant noodles, according to media reports.

North Korea allowed only 150 supporters and 10 domestic journalists from Japan to visit the secretive country for the match.

The Tokyo government statement, issued in response to an opposition question, said: "It was not desirable that spectators in North Korea showed an unfriendly attitude."

"It is understood that the Japan Football Association is taking action with regard to the customs' treatment and the spectators' behaviour."

The parliamentary committee was dealing with North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies in Japanese language and culture.

The unresolved kidnapping issue has prevented the two countries from normalising ties. Japan has strictly curbed exchanges with its communist neighbour, especially after Pyongyang tested nuclear bombs.

The Japan football Association (JFA) said it had sent a letter to its North Korean counterpart making inquiries about how the Japan team were treated and about the limits imposed by Pyongyang on supporters and media from Japan.

"We made the inquiries in a communication which we regularly make with host countries after international matches," JFA spokesman Hideki Kato told AFP.

Copies of the letter were reportedly sent to world governing body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

Source : AFP

22 November 2011

N. Korea crowned world champs - unofficially

SINGAPORE — North Korea's 1-0 win over Japan last week was not only a famous victory over their bitter rivals -- it also made them the Unofficial Football World Champions, according to a tongue-in-cheek website.

The www.ufwc.co.uk site contends that the world title won by Spain in 2010 passed unofficially to Argentina after a friendly win, and then to Japan after the Blue Samurai beat Lionel Messi's men in October last year.

So when Pak Nam Chol buried his 50th-minute header at Pyongyang's bitterly cold Kim Il Sung Stadium last Tuesday, prompting rapturous celebrations, it was a goal that also put the secretive state unofficially on top of the world.

"Heads will shake and eyebrows will raise but, in beating former champions Japan 1-0 on Tuesday, North Korea won the UFWC title and took (virtual) possession of the CW Alcock Cup," said a posting on the website.

"It?s a shock that many football fans are still getting used to, with North Korea becoming one of the least likely champions the game has ever seen.

"That, of course, is the beauty of the UFWC (Unofficial Football World Championship).

"Anything can happen over the course of 90 minutes, and North Korea deserved to take the title from Japan, who had taken the title from Argentina, who had taken the title from Spain... and so on."

In terms of official competition, the win was meaningless for North Korea as they had already been eliminated from 2014 World Cup qualifying, while Japan are into the final Asian round.

According to the site's rankings, Scotland are the most successful team with 86 unofficial world titles, followed by England and Argentina, while North Korea's first puts them joint 42nd alongside Israel and the Dutch Antilles.

The site says its rankings under a "simple boxing-style title system" take into account matches since the first international football match in 1872.


15 November 2011

YouTube - North Korea DPR vs Japan 1-0 Match Highlights 15.11.2011

North Korea 1-0 Japan !

Pyongyang: DPR Korea picked up their second win of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, third round qualifying campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Japan at the Kim Il-sung Stadium on Tuesday.

With Japan and Uzbekistan having already secured their passage to the next stage of qualifying the result was to prove inconsequential to the outcome of Group C but it was certainly a morale-boosting victory for the North Koreans, who are gearing up for the defence of their AFC Challenge Cup title which takes place in March next year in Nepal.

The feisty encounter which saw Bahrain referee Nawaf Shukralla issue seven yellow cards to the hosts - including two for Jong Il-gwan who was sent off in the 77th minute - was settled in the 50th minute by Pak Nam-chol, scorer of the Chollima's winner in their Matchday 2 victory over Tajikistan.

source : afc.com

11 November 2011

Uzbekistan 1-0 North Korea

Tashkent: Timur Kapadze's strike early in the second-half was enough for Uzbekistan to defeat DPR Korea 1-0 on Friday in Group C of the third round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers sealing the Central Asians' progression to the next phase along with Japan.

The 2011 AFC Asian Cup champions advanced with a 4-0 win over Tajikistan earlier on Friday and the Uzbeks ensured they will join the Japanese as the other qualifier from Group C as Kapadze struck four minutes after the interval to edge the North Koreans in a hard-fought tussle in Tashkent.

DPR Korea's defeat left them on three points, seven behind Uzbekistan and Japan with just two games remaining which leaves them, and Tajikistan who have yet to get off the mark, out of the reckoning for a place in the next round of qualifiers.

06 November 2011

65 fans to join official tour for Japan's World Cup game in N. Korea

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A travel agency organizing a spectator tour for Japan's World Cup qualifier against North Korea on Nov. 15 said Friday 65 fans will travel on the tour to Pyongyang for the Group C clash.

Nishitetsu Travel, which is organizing the Japan Football Association's official tour, said it had 94 internet applications by Thursday evening's deadline and has started contacting the 65 spectators, who were selected based in order of applications and other factors.

The tour, which has been given special government approval and costs around 290,000 yen, will arrive in Pyongyang on Nov. 14 via Beijing and return to Japan's Haneda airport the day after the game.

Government officials said Wednesday arrangements were being made to send Foreign Ministry staff to North Korea to ensure the safety of Japanese supporters when they travel to Pyongyang.

According to the ministry, it would be the first time for ministry bureaucrats to visit North Korea since some accompanied then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on his trip there in May 2004.

The ministry staff will stay in a hotel in Pyongyang and use it as their base since Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties.

Staff from the ministry's Consular Affairs Bureau and Northeast Asia Division under the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau intend to negotiate with North Korean authorities to address contingency situations such as accidents involving Japanese who travel to North Korea for the qualifier.

The move followed Japan's decision to take an exceptional measure to allow members of the national team, accompanying reporters and team supporters who register for official tours organized by the JFA to go to North Korea.

As part of sanctions imposed following North Korea's missile launch in July 2006, Japan has asked its nationals to refrain from visiting North Korea and suspended travel by public servants.

With roughly 200 Japanese people including the media projected to enter North Korea, a government official called it "necessary to dispatch Foreign Ministry staff from the standpoint of protecting Japanese nationals."

The envisioned dispatch has prompted protests from opposition lawmakers who point to what they say is the danger of making such an exception when outstanding issues remain such as North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals and Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

(Mainichi Japan) November 5, 2011