Previewing Korea DPR WNT

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Korea DPR)/ North Korea

FIFA Ranking: 8

Head Coach: Gum Ui Sin

Number of Olympic Appearances: This will be North Korea’s second time participating in women’s soccer at an Olympics.

Group: G (United States, France, Colombia)

First Match: July 25 against Colombia

Road to qualifying:  Eighteen teams, including North Korea, participated in the Asian Football Confederation’s Pre-Olympics Tournament. Japan and Korea DPR’s WNTs placed first and second respectively, qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics.  As a result, the third place winner Australia WNT will not take part in the competition this summer. Many believe North Korea should not be allowed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. North Korea is now banned by FIFA from competing in the 2015 World Cup due to many North Korean players testing positive for steroids in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.  The Australian Football Federation and the Australian Olympics Committee appealed to FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, and the World Anti-Doping Authority, arguing that North Korea also should be banned from the Olympics. As it stands now, FIFA stands by its decision to allow North Korea to compete in the Olympics and not in the 2015 World Cup. FIFA’s ruling only applies to the competition in which the doping incident occurred.

Goalkeepers:

Yung Mi Jo

Ran O Chang

Defenders:

Nam Hui Kim

Myong Gum Kim

Chol Ok Ro

Song Mi Yung

Son Hwa Pong

Nam Sil Ri

Midfielders:

Un Ju Choe

Ye GyongRi

Myong Hwa Jon

Chung Sim Kim

Un Hyang Kim

Hui Sun O

 Forwards

 Mi Gyong Choe

Hyong Hi Yung

Song Hui Kim

Song Hwa Kwon

Reserves:

Chol Ok Kim (G)

Yong Sim Choe (D)

Jong Im Yu (M)

Su Gyong Kim (M)

Key players:  Everything about this team and the new coach is a mystery to their opponents and women’s soccer fans alike.  Only one midfielder, three forwards, and one of their reserves from 2011 squad are named to the 2012 Olympics roster.  Keep an eye out for Choe Mi-Gyong, a forward. Choe has scored for the team twice in the Olympics qualifying tournament.

Prediction: There is a reason why US WNT and other WNTs feel cautious when it comes to playing against North Korea, a highly disciplined and well-drilled team.  Although North Korea did not score a single goal in the 2011 World Cup, the team managed to hold almost all of opponents in their group (United States and Sweden) scoreless until the second half. The match between North Korea and Colombia ended in a draw. In this Olympics, I can see North Korea defeating Colombia in its first game. However, they will struggle to get past France and United States in Group G.

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