Despite not having made a great impact on the international stage of late, Korea DPR have shown recently that no side should underestimate them. They were the only team to remain undefeated in Asia's third round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and the reward for their impressive campaign was an enviable 24-place rise in this month's FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, in which they now stand at 94th in the world and 12th in Asia.
The East Asians' tremendous climb up the world pecking order can be attributed to their admirable performances in June, when they picked up eight points from four games to round off their third round campaign for South Africa 2010.
Under coach Kim Jong Hun, the 1966 FIFA World Cup quarter-finalists embarked upon their June endeavours with considerable confidence, after clinching a first-up win against Jordan on 6 February before holding their powerful southern neighbours to a goalless draw in March.
And so to June: the "summer campaign" began with a double-header against Group 3 outsiders Turkmenistan. Playing the first leg away in Ashgabat, coach Kim's charges managed to hold the Central Asians at bay for a 0-0 draw. But five days later in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Stadium, Choe Kum Chol scored a second-half goal to give the Koreans a precious three points.
A week later came Matchday 5, and Serbia-based forward Hong Yong Jo struck in either half to steer Korea DPR to a 2-0 success over Jordan, a result which assured their progression from the section alongside Korea Republic, who defeated Turkmenistan 3-1 on the same day.
With qualifying missions already completed, the two Korean peninsula neighbours played out a goalless draw in the final game.
Throughout the qualifying campaign Korea DPR, whose last-eight finish at England 1966 stood as the best Asian achievement at a world finals for 36 years, were indomitable in defence.
Despite scoring only four times in their six third round games, they conceded not a single goal during the campaign; no opponents, not even the strongly favored Korea Republic, succeeded in breaching their rearguard.
The draw for the final qualifying round pits Kim's side against some familiar rivals, including Korea Republic, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, at whose expense they progressed to the last qualifying round for Germany 2006 four years ago.
To prepare for their opening game against hosts UAE on 6 September, Kim's squad will attend a one-week training camp in Uzbekistan, during which they will play a warm-up match against the Central Asians on 29 August. Determined to secure their second FIFA World Cup appearance, coach Kim believes the team's never-say-die spirit will carry them all the way through.
"We will give everything we have until the final minute in order to qualify for the World Cup," he vowed.
Calculation of points for a single match
P = M x I x T x C
M: points for Match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup™ qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup™ final competition: I = 4.0
T: strength of opposing Team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents.As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: strength of Confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup™ competitions (see following page). Their values are as follows:
|Points Last Month|
|Points outside Ranking calculation|