There will be shades of a legendary game from years gone by when Portugal and Korea DPR vie for crucial points in 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Group G on Tuesday. The two sides locked horns for the first and only time 44 years ago in a rollercoaster 5-3 win for the Iberian team, as Eusebio and Co had to pull out of all the stops after going three goals down. The iconic former Portugal striker called that quarter-final at England 1966 “the greatest match in my footballing career”, but the current line-ups would no doubt settle for any sort of victory to bolster their chances of reaching the last 16.
After drawing with Côte d'Ivoire last time around, Carlos Queiroz’s charges need to secure their first win of the tournament to brighten their qualification prospects – and not least because their final group game will pit them against Brazil. In particular, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to improve his own personal contribution as he attempts to meet the hopes and expectations placed in him by Portugal’s supporters.
He and his colleagues ought to expect fierce resistance from their opponents, however, Korea DPR having kept Brazil quiet until the second half of their opening encounter. It was only after the break that the five-time world champions managed to force their way through the Asian side’s stubborn defences to record a 2-1 success, and coach Kim Jong-Hun will be looking for a repeat of that stout display. Pace will be central to his team’s fortunes, with Rostov striker Hong Yong Jo and Ji Yun Nam among the most dynamic and the latter having memorably found the net against Brazil.
Players to watch
Ricardo Carvalho v Jong Tae Se
The Portugal centre-back delivered a solid performance against Côte d'Ivoire as he and partner Paulo Ferreira formed an impenetrable barrier that the Elephants failed to pass. The Chelsea stopper will now be anxious to help keep a second clean sheet against the North Koreans, for whom Jong could well carry the principal attacking threat. The striker based in Japan with Kawasaki Frontale intends to add his name to the list of scorers at South Africa 2010 and increase his tally of 16 international strikes.
3 – The number of Asian sides to have tackled Portugal in a FIFA World Cup. The Lusitanians overcame Korea DPR in 1966 and Iran four years ago, but they succumbed to Korea Republic in 2002. Three is also the number of goals Korea DPR managed to put past their upcoming rivals in 1966, still the record total for an Asian team in the global showcase.
What they said
”We’ll have to play higher up the pitch against the North Koreans and take more risks because we need a victory. Obviously we can’t afford to play the way we did in our last match. We got a point against a very strong team and now we’ll approach the next game with a clear goal: to win,” Carlos Queiroz, Portugal coach.
“Portugal are one of the potential competition winners. We started this World Cup against one of the biggest teams in the world and I think there’ll be less pressure against Portugal. We have a real chance of winning this match,” Jong Tae Se, Korea DPR forward.
Voice of the fans
”We can beat the North Koreans, but I think that Carlos Queiroz should change his tactics and that the players need to work better as a team,” FIFA.com user Nunofmluis (Portugal).
Will Portugal prove more effective in front of goal than they managed in their opening match and obtain their maiden win at South Africa 2010? Or will Korea DPR create the upset they came close to pulling off in 1966?