Korea DPR reveal semi-final aim
© FIFA.com

At the AFC U-17 Championship in Singapore last year, Korea DPR reached the final thanks to victories over Myanmar, China PR and Tajikistan. A place in the semi-finals of that tournament was enough to book them a berth at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and once again, a spot in the final four is the goal for the team's head coach An Ye Gun.

Korea DPR begin their campaign with a match against England at the FIFA World Cup Stadium in Jeju on Saturday and An is expecting victory over the Three Lions. His team have been in the Korea Republic since 7 August and have been working hard to ensure that their targets are reached.

"The players are excited because it's their first World Cup. "They are very, very proud to represent their country and needless to say, all the people back home are eagerly looking forward to the team's triumphant return.

"So far, the players have been preparing well. I am very confident that we will qualify from the group and that we will defeat England in the opening game. I am hoping that we qualify for the semi-finals.

"Our team's style of play is based on strong teamwork - I think the idea of having a strong team with individual talents is idealistic."

An also told FIFA.com that football is the most popular sport in the country, which combined with a concerted effort from the country's footballing association, has helped to produce a talented crop of players which have impressed on the world stage in recent years.

At Peru 2005, Korea DPR's U-17 team reached the quarter-finals, eventually losing out to Brazil in extra time. A few short months ago, their U-20 side were impressive in Canada, but bowed out in the group stage despite only suffering one defeat.

The country's female teams have also been in tremendous form. Korea DPR recently won the AFC U-16 Women's Championship in Malaysia, which earned them a place at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand next year. Next month, the senior women's side will battle it out with Sweden, USA and Nigeria at the FIFA Women's World Cup in China.

And arguably the country's finest moment on the world's footballing stage came in Russia last year when Choe Kwang Sok's charges were crowned as U-20 women's world champions.

With the foundations already in place, An believes that the men's team can emulate the achievements of the 1966 team and reach the FIFA World Cup™ finals in years to come.

"I think the reason why our young players have been so successful is that football is the most popular sport in my country and most young people love it," he continued.

"People are working hard in Korea DPR to develop young players and there has been a tremendous effort to develop them during the last decade.

"I have no doubt that we will qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals in the future."