Though still a relative youngster at the age of 22, Ri Jun-Il has proved that he has the ability and mentality to be counted on when Korea DPR go up against the likes of Brazil and Portugal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The only player who started each and every of the Chollima’s 16 qualifiers, the Sobaeksu defender also proved to be one of Korea DPR’s most consistent performers as they shocked their continental rivals by qualifying for the global showpiece.
The dependable centre-half was a permanent fixture in the U-23 team that competed in Asian qualifying for the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. With Ri marshalling the backline, the East Asians stormed into the final round, where they finished behind Australia and Iraq to bow out. However, although the team came up short, Ri emerged as the most notable gem unearthed by Korea DPR during the competition.
Having figured prominently at junior level, Ri graduated to Korea DPR’s experimental side against Mongolia in Asia’s preliminary qualifying round for South Africa 2010. Battle-hardened and cool-headed, the gifted defender excelled at the back as his side won both legs in convincing fashion.
From that moment, the youngster never looked back, featuring significantly throughout the remaining campaign as Korea DPR advanced in style. Regardless of the frequent tactical changes made by his coach, there was always room for Ri in the Chollima’s starting XI.