Nervy draw sees Congo through
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Congo hung on to share the spoils with Korea DPR in a 1-1 draw at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which ensures the Congolese’s progression into the round of 16 from Group A and the end of Korea DPR's campaign. The North Koreans gave the Africans plenty of trouble, taking the lead after the first quarter-hour, but Christ Nkounkou salvaged a draw before a dramatic and tense finish.

The Congolese opened the first half determined fashion, with the towering Nkounkou threatening to break through the Koreans’ defence. Within the first minute, the forward forced goalkeeper Cha Jong Hun into a save, but it was the Koreans who would take the lead with their first real chance of the match. Jong Il Hyok lofted a long cross over the Congolese backline, who were made to pay for their pause in search of an offside. Ju Jong Chol got on the receiving end of Il Hyok’s delivery and hearing no whistle cleverly lifted the ball over the outstretched Ngakosso in the 14th minute.

The North Koreans were given plenty of space throughout the midfield, as Congo pushed their men forward. Kim Chol Bom closed out a rather lacklustre first half, with a dangerous chance from the top of the area, but the Koreans could only take a one-goal lead into the break.

Congo, sitting on three points in the group, boosted their attacking displays in the second half. Within five minutes of the restart, Justalain Kounkou received a fine pass from Nkounkou at the top of the area, and as convincing as his shot was, it curled just wide of Cha Jong Hun’s right post. The North Koreans soon found themselves with a free-kick chance just outside the Congolese area after Stevy Samba tripped Jong Chol, but Nam Gwan fired wide. And Congo seemed as if they were going to regret their blundered chances at the other end, most notably Mavis Tchibota fluffing through the air as he attempted a one-time shot from an incoming cross.

With 30 minutes gone, Korea DPR countered, finding their way through a sparse Congolese backline as they had committed their squad forward. O Jin Song found himself one-on-one with keeper Jong Hun, only to see his effort deflect off the post. In a nervy scramble to clear the rebound, Korea DPR almost scored a second, but luck was on the Congo team’s side. Four minutes later, the Africans levelled the score. Hardy Binguila served a great free-kick in from the right flank, and Nkounkou overpowered his marker Chol Ryong to guide his header into the net.

The Congolese survived a few last-minute scares and hung on to claim the single point. The draw ensures Congo’s progression through to the last 16, as the Netherlands lost to Mexico in the group’s other match, where they will face the second-place finishers from Group C on 29 June in Morelia.