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DPR Korea shine in Asian youth tournaments - EAFF members showed their presence



November 27, 2014


Conquering Asia through AFC U-19 Championship

A member from the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) shone in Asian youth tournaments. DPR Korea opened the door to the world stage in the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship and the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship.

In the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship held from the 6th through the 20th September, DPR Korea made it through the group stage. They coasted to 3-0 and 4-1 victories against Kuwait and Nepal before losing 2-3 to Uzbekistan to finish second in the group.

The quarter-finals against Iran ended scoreless, but the East Asian side emerged 4-2 victors on penalties after their penalty-takers kicked first and all succeeded.

By securing a last-four berth, they had already sealed a ticket to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. However, they didn’t hesitate to make another powerful step forward.

DPR Korea faced Australia in the semi-finals. Three minutes after half-time, the EAFF member went ahead through Pak Yong-Gwan. But they conceded an equaliser five minutes from time and saw the game heading into penalties for two matches in succession.

Under heavy pressure, every penalty-taker from DPR Korea again succeeded to lead their team to a 4-1 victory as well as a fourth final.

In the final against their arch-rivals Korea Republic, DPR Korea fell behind after 34 minutes. However, Han Kwang-Song and Choe Song-Hyok scored in the 50th and 67th minutes to turn the game around. Fully showing their resilience, DPR Korea edged past their neighbours 2-1 and won their first Asian Under-16 title in two years and their second in total.

Runners up and fair play award winners in AFC U-19 Championship

DPR Korea also enjoyed a remarkable campaign in the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship, which began on the 9th October.

Besieged by Middle Eastern teams in the group stage, they had to deal with three difficult opponents. After losing the first game against Qatar 1-3, DPR Korea only managed a 1-1 draw against Oman. But then, they beat Iraq 2-1 to finish second in the group and earn a spot in the last-eight.

DPR Korea matched their EAFF colleagues Japan in the quarter-finals. Battling for the berth in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, both teams aimed for goals in a thrilling encounter. On 36 minutes, DPR Korea took the lead with a header by Kim Kuk-Chol but Japan equalised seven minutes from time through a spot-kick. After a 1-1 draw and a scoreless extra time, the match went to penalties.

After no mistakes by either side, the fifth kicker from Japan sent his shot towards the top left corner, but goalkeeper Cha Jong-Hun superbly tipped it wide to lead his team to a 5-4 triumph.

Then, the EAFF member cruised to a 5-0 win against Uzbekistan. Jo Kwang-Myong completed his hat-trick by the 63rd minute before Kim Yu-Song and So Jong-Hyok added two more goals.

In the final, DPR Korea was given a chance to settle a score with Qatar who defeated them in the group stage. They failed to take it and win their first title in three years and their fourth in total, however, after conceding the only goal of the game on 52 minutes. But their hard work was rewarded by the fair play award while Jo Kwang-Myong finished as a joint top scorer alongside Al-Saadi (Qatar) and Urinboev (Uzbekistan) with five goals a piece.

Only DPR Korea earned tickets to the world stage through both Under-16 and Under-19 tournaments. Asian football looks increasingly even-balanced with less and less difference in quality amongst teams in every category. DPR Korea’s remarkable performance in these tournaments should be applauded as they demonstrated the high quality of the EAFF.