North Korea hammer India in their own backyard

North Korea is currently competing for the Hero Intercontinental Cup which is an annual tournament hosted by India. This year, India, Tajikistan, North Korea and Syria are competing with North Korea looking to recover from a dismal Asian Cup. 

A tale of two 5-2's

In North Korea's first game at the Hero Intercontinental Cup, they faced off against a Syria side who had done so well in 2018 World Cup qualifying, losing out at the second last hurdle against Australia, but didn't fare so well in the Asian Cup themselves, despite not being as horrendous as the North Koreans.

Syria defeated North Korea 5-2 in that first match, and it looked like North Korea's dismal form would continue after not getting to the last round of the East Asian Football Championship for the first time in many moons, and then being, without doubt, the worst side to take part in the last Asian Cup.

So when they were scheduled to face India in their second match of the competition, it was expected that India would win comfortably. Surprisingly, India was not at the races and the North Koreans raced into an easy and unexpected 3-0 lead at half time. India rallied after the break, bringing it back to 3-2, but two late North Korean goals sealed a 5-2 win.

That means North Korea now have won 5-2 and lost 5-2 going into their final match against Tajikistan. If North Korea beat Tajikistan in the final match of the league format then they will enter the final, who they face isn't as clear it is looks because you would say Tajikistan should be there, but if they lose it then opens the door for India or Syria to be in the final too.

Anything other than a North Korea defeat should likely see them in the final, the team who possess the key to stopping that are Syria. 

Can North Korea use this as a springboard for World Cup qualifying? 

North Korea goes into World Cup qualifying on something of a slump since Jorn Andersen left for Incheon. They find themselves in pot 3, which means they'll likely find it an uphill battle to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Whatever they did right against India, they need to replicate in World Cup qualifying to stand any chance of getting to the finals. One thing that could be holding them back, which I read elsewhere and agree with, is that their tactics are quite outdated. With them not able to get much access to the outside world (allegedly) then they revert to what they've done for donkey's years.

I am not sure if this theory is correct, but if it is true that they don't have much access to new or relevant playing styles and tactics then it is a possibility that it could be a cause of their backwards spiral. Or it could just be that Jorn Andersen got them to be a more attacking side than they've ever been before and since he has left the Korean have reverted to type, with a strong defensive unit the key to success and quick breaks the order of the day.

Let us know if you think North Korea can qualify for the World Cup.

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