North Korea 5-0 Guam
3 December 2012
EAFF East Asian Cup Semi Final Competition
Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong
Scorers: An Il-Bom, Pak Nam-Chol, Jong Il-Gwan, Ri Myong-Jun (2)
A second successive five-goal victory for North Korea saw the Chollima comfortably retain the UFWC title. The reigning Unofficial Football World Champions dominated the match, and could have scored many more goals if not for a string of saves by Guam goalkeeper Doug Herrick. For Guam, the result could be seen as a relative improvement – North Korea beat the Pacific islanders 21-0 back in 2005.
The match, North Korea’s second in this EAFF East Asian Cup Semi Final Competition, saw the Chollima again play at the Mong Kok Stadium in Kowloon, north of Hong Kong Island. North Korea had beaten Chinese Taipei here on Saturday, and there were several similarities between that game and today’s.
Against Guam, just as against Chinese Taipei, North Korea’s first goal came from 21-year-old striker An Il-Bom. His 26th minute goal was followed in the 34th minute by one from his strike partner Ri Myong-Jun. North Korea led 2-0 at half-time.
Ri Myong-Jun scored his second goal, and North Korea’s third, in the 60th minute. The 22-year-old had also scored two against Chinese Taipei on Saturday. Pak Nam-Chol made the score 4-0 with eight minutes left to play. The Chollima’s star midfielder had also scored his side’s fourth goal against Taipei.
The rout was completed in the 87th minute, when the highly-rated young striker Jong Il-Gwan, who has been linked with moves to several high-profile European clubs, netted to make the final score 5-0 to North Korea.
The match was North Korea’s 11th as Unofficial Football World Champion. The Chollima have held the UFWC title since defeating Japan in November 2011. However, their toughest test will come in two days’ time.
Excitingly, today’s result sets up a UFWC title match on Wednesday between North Korea and Australia. The Socceroos have been Unofficial Football World Champions once before, in 1992 when they defeated then-champs the USA courtesy of a Warren Spink goal. They last played a UFWC title match in January 2011, losing 1-0 to then-champions Japan.
Australia, who are participating in the EAFF tournament as invited guests, might be considered clear favourites to win Wednesday’s match, being ranked 33rd in the world by FIFA, some 48 places higher than North Korea. However, the UFWC rankings show North Korea in the ascendancy, ranked 21st, 21 places above Australia.
More importantly, the Socceroos have entered this tournament with an unfamiliar squad, with many regulars unavailable due to club commitments. Coach Holger Osieck has mostly young and inexperienced players at his disposal, but can call on some exciting talents, like hotly-tipped 19-year-old attacking midfielder Tom Rogic, plus Aaron Mooy and Adam Taggart, alongside established names like Brett Emerton.
North Korea, on the other hand, have a solid and established side that blends exciting young talent with experience and quality. Few UFWC watchers, who have followed the progress of North Korea over the past year or so, will write off their chances against the Socceroos.
The North Korea vs Australia title match will be played at the Hong Kong Stadium, and kick off is 8.30pm local time (GMT+8). It is being live-streamed free online by SBS.com.au, although may be geo-blocked for those outside of Australia.
A reminder that the winner of this league-format semi final competition will progress to the EAFF East Asian Cup Finals alongside Japan, China and hosts South Korea. The remaining matches in the semi final competition that could have UFWC significance are:
5 December 2012 20:30 North Korea v Australia (UFWC title match)
7 December 2012 17:50 Guam v Australia
9 December 2012 14:20 Hong Kong v North Korea
9 December 2012 17:00 Australia v Chinese Taipei
So if North Korea retain the UFWC title on Wednesday, the next UFWC title match will see them play hosts Hong Kong on 9 December. However, if Australia win on Thursday and become Unofficial Football World Champions, the next title match will see the Socceroos face Guam on 7 December. A title match between the Socceroos and Chinese Taipei could follow on 9 December.