North Korea’s national soccer team coach was not overjoyed after leading his team to a victory in the country’s return to international competition.
After North Korea’s 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the first match of the men’s soccer qualifying group F for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games at the Zhejiang Provincial Sabodae East Stadium in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China, on Sept. 19, the coach said in a low, gravelly voice, “We prove with results. The future results will prove (our ability).”
When asked about a possible showdown with South Korea if they qualify, he calmly replied, “On the pitch, the winner is the winner,” adding, “If we get the chance (to face South Korea), we will definitely win.”
North Korea was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for unilaterally boycotting the 2021 Tokyo Olympics over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the ban was lifted on Dec. 31 last year.
North Korea has been slowly making its way back into international competition this year, sending nearly 200 athletes to the Hangzhou Asian Games.
According to MyInfo, the official information site of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, North Korea has registered a total of 191 athletes, including 112 women and 79 men, in 18 sports.
It is the first time in five years that North Korea has sent a team to an international multi-sport event, including the Olympics and Asian Games, since the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.
North Korea’s national soccer team made its international debut in January 2020, about three years and eight months after the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championship.
It was against Chinese Taipei, ranked 153rd in the FIFA rankings, so it’s still too early to tell, but the DPRK (115th) dominated their opponents throughout the match.
“We haven’t played internationally for about four years (actually three years and eight months), but we have maintained the potential and ability of our team by training well domestically and playing against (domestic) teams,” said North Korean coach Kim Yong Nam.
He praised Lee Jo-guk and Kim Kook-jin, who scored the goals on the day, saying they “did what the team wanted them to do.”
Shin didn’t reveal any specific goals for the tournament.
However, he was confident.
“I’m happy that my players played well in the first game. We were able to win because the players worked together and followed the coach’s intentions,” he said. “We can’t define our strengths because the tournament is still ongoing. The results speak for themselves.”
North Korea will face Kyrgyzstan on Nov. 21 and Indonesia on Nov. 24.
“We trained a lot for this tournament,” Shin said. We will do our best to win the next matches,” Shin vowed.
Four female North Korean cheerleaders cheered loudly throughout the game.
“The support of the workers (cheerleaders) gave us a lot of strength, and the players were able to show their strength on the field,” said Shin.
Unlike Shin’s calm press conference, the North Korean players walked past the joint press area without being interviewed.
Only one player said, “It was good,” when asked by South Korean reporters how the victory felt. A North Korean team official responded to the congratulations with a brief “thank you.” 토토사이트