The AFC (Asian Football Confederation) website have been publishing articles players to watch during the Asian Cup which takes place this January. They picked out An Il-bom as the key man for North Korea and we at the Tofu Bowl have to agree he is one of North Korea's key components to doing well in the competition.
An Il-bom plays in the holesThe An Il-bom is the kind of player that defences find tricky to mark or pick up because he doesn't stick to playing as an attacking midfielder, or as a striker. He is like an attacking link man, linking the two functional parts of the team together, he picks up space well between the lines meaning he tends to find himself in free space a lot of the time. If An is on form, then North Korea has a chance of doing very well in the UAE.
Brilliant long shotsI saw myself first hand in the AFC Cup last season how good An is at long shots after he curled a one in from an absurd angle against Fujen University. He was a constant menace in that game, and any time I have seen him play since then he has been the main focal point of the teams attack. Some of his long-shot goals are brilliant and well worth a watch if you can find them on YouTube.
North Korea will be hoping An fires them out of the groupNorth Korea is in a group with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia is likely to be the favourites to get to the next round, but the other three teams are well matched. With either of them could get through with the Saudi's. This group also could have one of the best 3rd place finishers making the next round in my opinion.
The dates of North Korea's games are:DPR Korea vs Saudi Arabia
Venue: Rashid Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: January 8, 20:00 UTC+4
DPR Korea vs Qatar
Venue: Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: January 13, 15:00 UTC+4
DPR Korea vs Lebanon
Venue: Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah
Kick-off: January 17, 20:00 UTC+4