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."