Sweden UFWC TrophyNorth Korea 1-1 Sweden (1-4 on penalties)
23 January 2013
King’s Cup
700th Anniversary Stadium, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Scorers: Hong Kum Song (North Korea);
Fejzullahu (Sweden)

Sweden are the new Unofficial Football World Champions after defeating long-term UFWC title holders North Korea. Swedish coach Erik Hamrén had said ahead of the match that the unofficial championship would provide additional motivation for his team, and they eventually managed to defeat North Korea following a penalty shoot out. North Korea had been unofficial champions since November 2011, when they took the title from Japan. Sweden last held the title in November 2008.

In addition to being a UFWC title match, this was the first fixture in the 2013 King’s Cup – a four-team knockout tournament, with all matches played at the 700th Anniversary Stadium in Chaing Mai, northern Thailand. The other participants are Finland and hosts Thailand. Sweden will now progress to the final this Saturday.

North Korea lined up for this game with a much-changed team compared to previous UFWC matches. Most notably, neither of the two Pak Nam Chols played. The attacking midfielder Pak Nam Chol had been the Chollima’s star player throughout their UFWC reign, providing goals and assists, and he was much missed today. Goalkeeper Ri Myung Guk captained the side.

Sweden fielded a team based around players from the Swedish domestic league, and missing several star men, including, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Adam Johansson, Daniel Majstorovic, Anders Svensson, and Tobias Hysén were among the more established names in the starting line-up. Interestingly, 35-year-old centre back Majstorovic played in Sweden’s last UFWC victory in 2008. There were international debuts for Jakob Johansson of IFK Gothenburg and Fullerton Fejzullahu of Djurgarden. It would prove to be a debut to remember for Fejzullahu.

Erik Hamrén called the UFWC “obviously an additional motivating factor” in the build up to the match. “I always want to win games, and it would be good to be called the unofficial world champions,” he said. “We want to have a good performance, and would love to win against North Korea. If that means that we’re world champions, I’ll be very happy.”

The first half saw Sweden dominate possession without quite making it count. 24-year-old striker “Erton” Fejzullahu looked lively, creating a couple of half chances for his side. North Korea created nothing, but held the Swedes at bay with a mostly-effective offside trap.

The obviously dissatisfied North Korea coach Yun Jong Su made another of the unusually early substitutions that have been a feature of his team’s UFWC run, bringing on Pak Song Il after just 36 minutes in what appeared to be a purely tactical swap. Interestingly, North Korea made five substitutions over the course of the game – unusual for a UFWC title match, but allowed under the rules of the King’s Cup tournament.

Sweden created three good chances towards the end of the half. First, Jakob Johansson found Hysén – only for the striker to shoot straight at Ri Myung Guk. A Fejzullahu volley was also hit straight at the North Korea keeper, before a Jakob Johansson shot from distance was bundled around the post.

It was goalless at half-time, but that all changed pretty quickly in the second half. Within three minutes of the restart North Korea had the lead, with quick passing allowing Hong Kum Song to shoot past Swedish keeper Pär Hansson. 1-0 to the reigning champions.

However, the Swedes continued to dominate possession, and got their reward after 55 minutes, when Ri Myung Guk raced off his line to clear the ball, only to kick it straight to Fejzullahu, who cleverly lobbed the keeper to score an equaliser. It was an awful mistake from the North Korean captain, who had been so impressive in previous UFWC matches, but full credit to Fejullahu for taking skilful advantage. 1-1.

As the second half progressed, the game became more stretched, and both keepers were called upon to make saves. North Korea became more adventurous, but Sweden retained the majority of the possession.

Most importantly, however, there were no further goals. That meant the game would be settled via a penalty shoot out. The last UFWC penalty shoot out was in January 2011, when then-champions Japan defeated South Korea. That was pretty much a walkover – and so was this one.

Amazingly, the North Koreans, who looked so efficient throughout their long UFWC reign, seemed to lose all composure. Anders Svensson, Daniel Majstorovic, Tobias Hysén and Pontus Jansson all scored for Sweden. Only Kim Chol Bom scored for North Korea. The penalty shoot out finished 4-1, and Sweden were the new Unofficial Football World Champions.

Sweden have a great record in the UFWC, and they now get the chance to extend it. Today’s win – their 27th in the competition – pushes the Swedes up to 7th in the all-time UFWC rankings table alongside Italy and Germany. Another win would put them ahead of those two giants of world football.

The next UFWC title match comes around quick and fast, this Saturday 26 January, when Sweden play the winner of today’s Finland vs Thailand match in the King’s Cup Final. The final kicks off at 1700 local time (1000 GMT / 1100 CET). Again, we’ll have full coverage right here. Watch this space and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

UPDATE: Finland defeated Thailand 3-1, and will play Sweden in Saturday’s King’s Cup Final.

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About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.

19 thoughts on “North Korea 1-1 Sweden (1-4 on penalties)

  1. meitnerio

    Nice Swedish “victory”!!! Fejzullah’s goal was a little bit… xDD

    You’ve been really fast updating all the logo’s to Swedish colours! hehe.

    PS: I had never realized that the name of the owner is written on the cup xDD

  2. Delzepich

    Surprisingly or even unfortunately, the King’s Cup matches Sweden – North Korea and Thailand – Finland have disappeared from the list of national team matches on http://www.fifa.com or more precisely, in the match centre or the latest results and upcoming fixtures on the pages for North Korea or Sweden.

    I am quite sure that they were there during the last days.

    What does it mean now…did those matches lose their FIFA “A”-match status?
    Is North Korea still unofficial champion?


  3. Paul Brown Post author

    @Delzepich Hi Delze. This has been noticed. There is precedent for FIFA changing classification of matches, and UFWC results have always stood. There will be further information in the next update, but importantly today’s result will stand as far as the UFWC is concerned.

  4. Delzepich

    @Paul Brown
    Hi Paul,
    at least on the web pages of the Swedish and the Finnish football association today’s matches are considered as matches of their respective A-teams.
    Of course, there is no page of North Korean association and I would not be able to read it anyway 🙂

    So…heja Sverige!!

  5. Rune

    Finland won, but will Sweden – Finland be listed as an A-match? I’m happy for Sweden, but the victory doesn’t taste as good as I thought it would.

  6. schna

    The same did happen with the two last Norway matches against South Africa and Zambia. First those matchs were listed, but then removed (Norway also sent a domestic league side as Sweden and Finland did).

  7. Paul Brown Post author

    @Delzepich @Rune We are in contact with FIFA for clarification, but as the Swedish and Finnish FAs both seem to class these matches as A matches I don’t think there will be a problem, although the uncertainty it creates is a little disappointing.

  8. Mark

    Matches are not official for FIFA (proper authority from AFC was not sought beforehand). So, North Korea should still be champions.

    North Korea’s next official match is in January 2015 (Asian Cup in Australia), which they have qualified for by virtue of winning the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. So, they don’t need to go through qualification rounds for this tournament, and also they are out of the World Cup qualification until the next tournament (qualification in 2016).

    North Korea will probably play a few friendly matches before January 2015 to prepare for the Asian Cup, but it’s possible they can retain the UFWC for the next 2 years if they do not play any matches until then.

  9. Kevin

    I cannot see how any choice other than following the FIFA site is feasible here. If they later recognise these matches, then the title can be retrospectively routed via Sweden. That is the only way that the award can be shown to be taking its own rules seriously. If results cannot be determined to be those recognised by FIFA, then the only definitive criterion seems to be the whim of the site owner, and that lends no credibility to the project at all.

    I fear that the willingness of the Swedish manager, and therefore press, to talk about it, compared to the zero publicity possible through N Korea’s likely schedule over the next couple of years, may have played a part in this decision, and can only encourage a rethink of this decision, or at least a full explanation of the thinking behind it.

    Interested parties can vote in a poll at http://ufwc.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=discusstheufwchere&action=display&thread=129

  10. Mark

    @Paul Brown

    I’m glad UFWC doesn’t follow FIFA’s aclssification system, beacuse it is a mess at the moment. It’s possible fora match to be removed if it is subsequently discovered that the 3rd official is not FIFA approved, or that they hadned in a form 24 hours late – for example, thus nullifying the whole 90 minute match that was just played.

    The matches are all classed as A matches by the respective FAs – the problem is that which I wrote above (improper notification to AFC) – I’ve already checked with FIFA and this is the reason they gave for their removal.

  11. Mark

    @Paul Brown

    I’m glad UFWC doesn’t follow FIFA’s aclssification system, beacuse it is a mess at the moment. It’s possible for a match to be removed if it is subsequently discovered that the 3rd official is not FIFA approved, or that they hadned in a form 24 hours late – for example, thus nullifying the whole 90 minute match that was just played.

    The matches are all classed as A matches by the respective FAs – the problem is that which I wrote above (improper notification to AFC) – I’ve already checked with FIFA and this is the reason they gave for their removal.

  12. martin

    Hi all,
    I’m from Sweden and new to the UFWC concept, I learned about the UFWC in the Swedish media since we just became (or not) UFWC champions.
    @Paul Brown
    What a fantastic web site. During the last couple of Days I have read all the match reports at this site with great pleasure.
    I also enjoy the debate whether or not the Kings cup matches due to administrative errors are valid or not. The debate is a real evidence of that the UFWC is important and I will follow the UFWC from now.

    Here are some maybe biased comments and questions regarding the debate.

    1) The UFWC rules says “2. A UFWC title match is any international ‘A’ match involving the current UFWC title-holder. According to FIFA: ‘An international ‘A’ match shall be a match that has been arranged between two national A associations affiliated to the Federation and for which both Associations field their first national representative team.’ This includes most friendly matches”
    Q: Where is it said, that the matches shall be listed on the FIFA web page to be regarded as UFWC matches?

    2. There are some suggestions from the pro Non-valid commentators that the kings cup may be re-valid again if the matches are relisted on the Fifa web page.
    Comment: I want too see this from Another perspective. If it is important for Fifa that the Kings cup is not regarded as A matches. How can Fifa allow that an affiliate association SVFF(Swedish Football Association) list the matches as A matches on their web page? This tells me that Fifa does not really bother, and if Fifas do not bother , their list of A games cannot be the (only) source for determining the validity of an UFWC match.

    3. Moral issue. Obviously Sweden did not play with their best possible team, eventhough Anders Svensson actually played his 136th and 137th cap at the Kings cup. If Sweden hypothetical started the tournament as UFWC champion, and lost the title to North Korea , while not playing with the best possible team, I might also have tried to argument for that the matches should be regarded as invalid.
    Q: Does any of you followers of UFWC know if North Korea played with their best team?
    Q: Are there any reactions from North Korea saying that the Kings cup game shall be regarded as invalid?

    Best regards


  13. Prk


    I am Korea DPR fan and although we lost ufwc title, it was ok because the side we used was basically the u 20 world cup 2011 team except for jon kwang ik and world cup 2010 goalkeeper ri myong guk. so i think they did well considering sweden is a good side. Another way to put it is that it was Sweden league best team vs DPR Korea league best team

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