North Korean side 4.25 SC (pronounced April 25th Sports Club) are again the top East Asian side representing the Asian sub-region of East Asia in the AFC Cup which is considered the equivalent of Europe’s Europa League but is really used more as a development competition for the minor leagues.
In last season’s competition, the North Korean side lost out to Indian side Bengaluru losing 3-0 away in India, and drawing 0-0 in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
Army team are the biggest side in North Korea
4.25 SC is the North Korean Army team with all members of the professional teams – both men and women’s teams – are considered officers of the army. The team has gone through some name changes in its time as a club.
Established in 1949 as the Central Sports Training School Sports Club (bloody long name I know) then it was decided that the name would be changed to February 8 Sports Club, with the name coming from the date the Korean People’s Army was established.
Not to be content with having one name change, and being named after when the army was formed on the 26th June 1972 the name was changed again on the orders of Kim Jong-il. Big Kin Jong-il wanted the football club to named after the anti-Japanese guerilla army, which was considered the predecessor to the Korean People’s Army and was formed on April 25th 1932.
April 25th is the biggest North Korean club side, although it’s not hard to see how the army team is the biggest in the country when the country is a country like North Korea. The club is not only a football club but is a multi-sports club, hence why the name is SC and not FC.
Other East Asian sides no match for North Korean bully in the AFC Cup
April 25th had no issues at all brushing aside the other teams in their East Asian section of the AFC Cup. Their initial group consisted of another North Korean side Hwaebul, Macau’s Benfica Macau and Taiwan’s Hang Yuen.
Benfica Macau managed to make headlines by having a good run in the group stage, and gaining more wins and points than anyone expected, but they still didn’t manage to topple the North Korean bully who swatted past all three sides like they were cockroaches to be stomped on.
Winning the group with ease, scoring 18 goals in 6 matches, while only conceding 2 proved that the other teams were no match at all for April 25th.
Teams foreign players struggled to get visas for North Korea
The two non-North Korean sides in the group struggled to get their foreign players visas to go to North Korea. If foreign teams cannot bring their first team to Pyongyang for the games then that means the outcome will always be weighted in the home sides favour.
It’s difficult for any side that has to go to play in North Korea, but to do it without being able to take some of the better players in your squad; then it makes near on impossible to get a win.
The match against Home United
Home United are Singaporean champions, and they have had a much more difficult run in getting to this stage of the competition. Because of how the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has segmented this competition it means that South East Asian sides have a far more difficult route to the final.
The sides have to play against stronger teams from Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines. All the sides from these countries would have no issues defeating the teams that April 25th defeated during their progress, but not only do they have tougher competition in the group stage, they also have to play a South East Asian Zone final to get to the inter zonal semi-final.
Even with the tougher route and difficult opposition I still believe it will be an uphill battle for Home United to defeat April 25th SC over two legs. If April 25th come out of the away match tonight in Singapore with any kind of positive result or even a close defeat, then they’ll do enough in Pyongyang to go through.
Although some key players for the North Koreans may be missing the game because the Asian Games that is currently taking place in Indonesia, which could severely hinder April 25th SC’s progress in this competition.
We think April 25th SC will win the game
We reckon that April 25th SC will have too much for Home United, and come out on top over two legs. Home United are not as strong as the Indian side that defeated the North Koreans last time at this stage of the competition and for that reason, we believe the North Koreans will progress one step further than last time around.
It could even be possible for April 25th SC to go all the way, but it will become very difficult for them if they go far enough to the final and end up having to play against a West Asian side, who are often some of the most dominant sides in Asian football, especially at AFC cup level.
Therefore, we predict that April 25th will win this tie, but might struggle to win the whole competition.