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.