North Korea vs Palestine
16 March 2012, Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal
AFC Challenge Cup Semi Final
Kick Off 18:30 Local (12:45 GMT)
It is games like this that the UFWC was created for. Reigning champions North Korea (ranked 111th in the world by FIFA) take on Palestine (ranked 160th) for the Unofficial Football World Championships. There is also a place in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup at stake, but, let’s be honest here, that is merely a side salad in this unlikely football feast.
UFWC followers now know quite a lot about North Korea, which is remarkable really, considering the infamous ‘shroud of secrecy’ that hangs over everything the country does. Since taking the title from Japan with a 1-0 win back in November, the Chollima have been unbeaten in five matches. They won all three of their AFC Challenge Cup group matches, scoring eight goals and conceding none. Star man Pak Nam Chol (#4) scored in all three games.
Palestine have never played in a UFWC title match before, and it would be remarkable if Palestine could become Unofficial Football World Champions given the political restrictions and security concerns the national team has to contend with, not to mention the fact that they are not officially recognised by the United Nations as a country.
Although Palestine has been playing international football since 1953, it has only been recognised by FIFA since 1998, and only played its first official home match in the Palestinian Territories in 2008. They beat Nepal and the Maldives, and drew with Turkmenistan, to reach the semi finals, scoring four goals and – like North Korea – conceded none.
The man to watch for Palestine is Fahed Attal (#10), who was the tournament’s top scorer last time Palestine qualified for the AFC Challenge Cup, and scored one of his team’s goals against Nepal last week.
North Korea go into the match as clear favourites, having looked very solid, if unspectacular, in previous matches. Coach Yun Jong-su gave a solid, if unspectacular, comment ahead of the match, saying ‘We have seen the matches of Palestine and have analysed their tactics and will implement our strategy accordingly.’
However, Palestine coach Jamal Mahmoud is confident his team have a decent chance against the UFWC champions. ‘We know how they play and we know it will be a tough match but we are here to win this championship,’ he said in his pre-match press conference.
We’ll have a full match report right here wihin minutes of the final whistle, and you can also get live updates via our Twitter feed (@UFWC_Football).