Korea DPR

The past
Korea DPR have qualified for the finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup twice previously. On the back of their solid performances in the Asian qualifying championship, where they finished second in 2004 and 2006, the North Koreans began to make an impact on the world stage. They stormed through to the quarter-finals of Peru 2005 with the help of prolific striker Choe Myong-Ho before losing to eventual finalists Brazil in an extra-time thriller in the last eight. They then bowed out with a 3-0 defeat to Spain in the round of 16 at Korea 2007.

The present
Having twice finished runners-up at the AFC U-16 Championship, in 2004 and 2006, the Koreans were determined to win the elusive title this time around after topping their qualifying group with four wins and a draw to reach the finals in Uzbekistan. At the core of their devastating attack was livewire forward Jo Kwang, who scored seven out of his side’s 15 goals in the preliminary competition, including braces against Myanmar, Korea Republic and Cambodia. However, Jo was not guaranteed a place in coach Ri Song-Ho’s starting line-up at the championship proper. The young Chollima slumped to a 1-1 draw with Syria in the opening match, before bouncing back with two straight wins over Iran and Oman to claim pole position in their group. Jo then celebrated his return with a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory against Jordan in the quarters that earned his country their ticket to Mexico. Even with Jo back on the bench, the Koreans got their revenge for losing to Japan in the 2006 final with a 2-1 win in the last four. And it was the lively No10 again who came off the bench to seal a 2-0 win over hosts Uzbekistan and crowned the Asian champions for the first time.

The future
Even though Jo stole the show in qualifying, Korea DPR coach Ri Song-Ho believes that the collective effort from the group is the key to larger success. “All the members of this team are very proud of this remarkable victory. I’m sure that we will be invincible if we can develop our own principle of play more concretely in the future.” He said. “My future plan is that we won’t rest on the achievement of winning the Asian title, we will now make higher goals for our football development. Our next aim is a good result at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals, and we will spare no efforts to heighten the development of Korean football."