17 January 2015


Canberra: Coach Jo Tong-sop vowed to change both personnel and strategies in search of already-eliminated DPR Korea’s first AFC Asian Cup win in 35 years when they take on Group B winners China at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
DPR Korea exited the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 after a 4-1 defeat by three-time winners Saudi Arabia in Melbourne on Wednesday following an opening 1-0 loss to 2011 fourth-placed side Uzbekistan.
Although both teams’ places in Group B have already been decided - China as group winners and DPR Korea finishing in fourth regardless of the result in Australia’s capital - Jo (pictured, left) will look to finish his campaign with three points, thereby improving upon the Chollima’s performance in the 2011 edition when they were eliminated from the group stages after picking up a single point.
“For the next match there will be a slight change in formation and the selection list to get the best possible result in this tournament,” said Jo, who was also in charge of the national team during the AFC Asian Cup four years ago.
“The match against Uzbekistan I think we lost because we did not anticipate correctly their attack down the wings, our defence was not prepared for that.
“And against Saudi Arabia, the players were too excited once they conceded the second goal and did not defend properly. That is the main reason we were tactically defeated.
“I don’t want to blame the players; my leadership, my instructions, my plans and projects were not good enough. Training and playing tactics for the match was not perfect; I think that was the reason for the losses.”
Neighbours and Sunday’s opponents China are currently on an upward curve, though, having qualified for the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals for the first time since they hosted the tournament in 2004.
And Jo knows that his side will be in for a tough challenge should they wish to gain a first continental championship win since the 1980 tournament.
“I watched the two games of China and the Chinese team is good in terms of physical fitness and they are technically and tactically prepared well. The combination and leadership of the coach is very good, I think,” said Jo.
“I don’t feel any difference between this (match) and previous matches. As we did in the last matches we do our best to show our full skill, there is no difference.
“Like the other teams, we also wanted to prove our skills when we prepared for the tournament and it did not work out very well.
“After this tournament when we get back to our homes we will analyse the matches and what was lacking and what has to be covered, everything, and we will find out the way to improve it.”


11 January 2015

Jo still optimistic after DPR Korea loss

Sydney: DPR Korea coach Jo Tong-sop believes his team can still advance to the last eight of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 despite losing 1-0 in their opening game against Uzbekistan at Stadium Australia on Saturday.

Igor Sergeev scored the only goal of the game to give Uzbekistan the perfect start to their campaign while leaving DPR Korea chasing victory in their next game against Saudi Arabia to reignite their challenge for a place in the knockout rounds.

“For this match today we really wanted to win, but I thought that the Uzbekistan team was very good and they showed their ability,” said Jo, who led his nation at the finals of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

“For our team, I don’t think we showed our ability to the fullest today and if we had done a little better we could have won.
“We still have two more matches in the group stages, so we still have a chance (to reach the quarter-finals) and we don’t want to miss it.

“Many of the teams here are very strong, stronger than us. We will have to concentrate all our power on each and every match because that’s the only way for us to overcome each stage of the competition.”

DPR Korea were second-best for much of the game, but a last-ditch header from Pak Kwang-ryong almost earned Jo’s team a point only for Ignatiy Nesterov to deny the Liechtenstein-based striker with a reflex save that kept the scores level.

“In the last minute, I thought we were really unfortunate but the result is the result,” said Jo.
“We would like to convert our chances and go forward and attack a little bit more, because then we could create more chances than we did this time.”

Jo conceded that his defensive tactics were unable to yield the result he had hoped for when selecting his team.
“Before the match we had planned to concentrate on defending and then counter-attack to score and win the game,” he said. “But even though in the middle of the match, we gave away one goal, I still wanted to keep this strategy but it didn’t work very well."  


06 January 2015

North Koreans keeping to themselves ahead of Asian Cup

By Darren Walton

Ambitious North Korea are hoping to win every game at the Asian Cup - but it's unclear how.
Like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's football team are a somewhat secretive lot.
Ranked 150th in the world, the Chollima only arrived in Australia on Tuesday, giving themselves just three-and-a-half days to acclimatise and prepare for their tournament opener against Uzbekistan at ANZ Stadium.
Refusing to speak to the media, let alone divulge tactics, coach Jo Tong-sop and the 22-man North Korean squad - featuring 18 home-based players - dashed straight to the privacy of their hotel rooms after being greeted in Sydney with a traditional indigenous dance.
Tight-lipped media manager Choe Nam-hyok said he was unsure how much support, if any, the side would receive in Australia, but hoped to pick up a few fans during the tournament.
They can probably bank on some support from the Macarthur under-10s, who made the trek from western Sydney on Tuesday to greet the North Koreans while proudly holding up the country's national flag outside the team hotel.
It is unknown if North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong-un will attend any games - or even be in Australia - for the tournament.
Asked about the side's hopes for the Asian Cup, Choe smiled and said: "To win every game."
Such hopes seem fanciful for the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and for a country that last won a match at an Asian Cup in 1980.
North Korea, though, did qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, even if they only managed to score one goal while conceding a dozen in three heavy defeats.
Pooled in Group B alongside China, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, their first-up rivals won't be taking them lightly on Saturday.
Star defender Vitaliy Denisov, who plies his trade for Lokomotiv Moscow, said Uzbekistan, while hoping to go all the way to the final, held great respect for North Korea.
Denisov said the threat of the unknown worried the White Wolves the most.
"We played against them before," he said. "We won two games with the minimum score - 1-0 - and we heard they now have a new coach and new players, many changes in the team."