North Korea can beat Brazil: Jong - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

North Korea can beat Brazil: Jong

09/06/2010 08:59:11 AM Comments (0)

North Korea's best-known player Jong Tae-Se said he hopes the team can change the image of the isolated nation and believes they could topple mighty Brazil.

Jong, who plays in Japan's J-League and is known as Asia's Wayne Rooney, spoke to reporters before North Korea's first open training session at Makhulong stadium outside Johannesburg.

"We want to change the North Korean image," he said, adding that the major strength of the 105th-ranked "Chollima" was their powerful team spirit.

"Our core mentality is like Germany, Germany's spirit," he said.

"We're brave. We can win against Brazil. Everybody thinks about that game is we can't win but we have a brave heart and brave spirits."

North Korea, better known for its nuclear weapons programme and dubious rights record, were drawn in the same group as Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal.

Jong admitted he was "very surprised" by the draw but said he is happy to pit his wits against football's big guns, starting with five-times World Cup winners Brazil in their Group G clash on June 15.

And he said he had picked up tips on the legendary South American giants from Brazilian team-mates at Kawasaki Frontale.

Jong holds South Korean nationality like his parents, descendants of immigrants from colonial Korea. But he has managed to obtain a North Korean passport after growing up at patriotic pro-Pyongyang schools in Japan.

The Kawasaki frontman said he was flattered by comparisons with England forward Wayne Rooney, but saw himself more in the mould of Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba for his qualities as a target man.

And he said the 2010 team wanted to make history in the same way as their forebears 44 years ago when North Korea, in their first appearance at football's showpiece, beat Italy in one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history.

"I grew up with the video of the 1966 World Cup so I want a lot to be like that," he said, adding: "I want to surprise again this World Cup."

Only a handful of the 2010 squad ply their trade overseas. Apart from Jong, fellow Japanese-born ethnic Korean An Yong-Hak also plays in the J-League. Striker Hong Yong-Jo is on the books of Russia's FC Rostov.

Jong has previously spoken of the culture clash in the North Korean dressing room.

"It has taken a lot to accept their culture," he said of his team-mates. "They got curious about my cell phone. When I let them use it, it changed hands among all of them. Such small matters stressed me," he said ahead of the team's departure for South Africa.

North Korea opened the doors to the media Tuesday after Monday banning reporters from watching training and speaking to players at the stadium in Tembisa township, deepening the sense of mystery swirling around the squad.

The 2,000-1 rank outsiders made their debut on South African soil on Sunday in a friendly against Nigeria which garnered more headlines for the trouble off the pitch after 16 people were injured in a stampede by ticketless fans.

North Korea's qualification for the finals in South Africa is their first since their famous adventure in the 1966 World Cup in England when they reached the quarter-finals where they were eventually beaten 5-3 by Portugal with the legendary Eusebio grabbing four goals.

Along the way, they beat Italy 1-0 as well as drawing with Chile.

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