Having returned to the Asian stage after a 16-year absence, Korea DPR stormed through to win the AFC Youth Championship and stamp their ticket to Canada. The backbone of the team comes directly from the Korea DPR U-17 side that reached the quarter-finals at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005. Under the guidance of the same coach, Jo Tong-Sop, the class of 2005 - including goalkeeper Ju Kwang-Min, midfielder Ri Chol-Myong, and "the Korean Ronaldo" Choe Myong-Ho - are preparing for further success one step up at the U-20 fesitival in Canada.

Qualifying
The Koreans were drawn into a tough group alongside Japan, Iran, and Tajikistan. After a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Japanese in their opener, they stormed back in some style to post a 5-0 victory, which saw both Jong Chol-Min and captain Kim Kum-Il score twice. The goals proved decisive in their passage to the last eight, as Korea DPR squeaked out a 1-0 win in their final group-stage game against Tajikistan to advance on goal difference ahead of Iran.

After breezing past Iraq (2-0) and Jordan (1-0) thanks to captain Kim's winning goals, the Koreans faced yet another meeting with Japan in the final, who progressed at the expense of their southern neighbours Korea Republic. The second encounter ended in sweet revenge for Jo Tong-Sop's boys, as they won out 5-3 on penalties after finishing level 1-1 after extra time.

Coach
Jo Tong-Sop surprised the world in 2005 when he led the U-17 Korea DPR team to the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru. Although they lost 3-1 to Brazil after extra time in that stage, their never-say-die attitude was well on display throughout the competition. It was therefore a fairly simple decision to appoint him to guide the U-20 side ahead of their maiden voyage to a world finals in Canada.

After a successful playing career at Po Tong Gang club over two decades (1970-1990), he made his debut on the bench as an assistant coach of Ri Myung-Su club's women team in 1994. Jo went on to take the reins of the men's team two years later and stayed there until 2003, when he was appointed coach of Korea DPR's U-17 outfit.

Star player
Captain Kim Kum-Il was one of the revelations during the qualifiers in India. The midfield dynamo led Korea DPR to the title, scoring four goals in the process. Ever-present in all six games that the Koreans played in the competition, he was voted the tournament's top player after lifting the trophy in the final shootout win over Japan.

Record

  • Korea DPR qualified for Canada 2007 by winning the AFC Youth Championship in India in November 2006.

  • This will be the first time that the side will compete in a FIFA U-20 World Cup.
What they said…
"I told my players to play with a single mind and team work. Individual brilliance won't help if you don't work as a team." (Coach Jo Tong-Sop, after winning the 2006 AFC Youth Championship in India)