North Korea find lost form at the right moment


North Korea have managed to pick up their form just when they needed it to return as World Cup qualifying gets underway. Do a 2-0 home win against Lebanon and a 1-0 win away to Sri Lanka represent a vital return to form for the Korea of the North?

North Korea put a stop to their slump 

There's no way of putting this nicely, but North Korea has been beyond rubbish for the last 18 months. The pinpoint of the slump can be placed at the East Asian Championship and losing Jørn Andersen as manager.

They are the team to qualify for the final round of the East Asian Championship every time it is played. But not this time baby, because Hong Kong scored a goal more than them to scrape through to the final round in South Korea.

After this failure, they went to the Asian Cup, where they were comfortably the worst team at the finals. The slump generally had to stop somewhere, but the question that was beginning to be asked was, how far will they fall before they end that downward spiral.

The answer to that seems to have been at the Hero Intercontinental Cup in India. The North Korean's went there with some shocking form but managed to put a stop to it and come away from that competition with the title.

This seems to have given them the impetus to go into World Cup qualifying heading in the right direction, and with the confidence returning, they seem to have navigated the match against Lebanon without too much trouble, although all any of us got were the highlights, which amazingly appeared on Twitter from somewhere.

They then made light work of Sri Lanka in their second match, this one was played away, and even though North Korea only won 1-0 this still was a good result. North Korea is notorious for being terrible travellers and rarely hammer anyone away like they do at home.

This has left North  Korea on top spot in their group, but South Korea has only played one game. North Korea was the 3rd seeds in this group but will be fighting with Lebanon, and Turkmenistan for 2nd spot, as I don't believe any of them will topple South Korea.

The crunch match in Pyongyang

We will find out next month on the 15th October if North Korea is going to be the real thing in Qualifying for the World Cup when they host South Korea in a World Cup qualifier which according to the AFC website, will be held in Pyongyang's Kim Il-Sung Stadium.

This will be the first time for years that this game will be played in North Korea. If you have the best part of 1,149 Euros to spend, you too could be there for the match and a 5-night stay.

It means we are going to find out for sure if North Korea can manage to put up any kind of fight at toppling the South in this group, because they will have home advantage to call upon and not many sides go to Pyongyang and get something (God I sound like the, 'you've got to go to Stoke on a wet Tuesday night and get something brigade).

It is true however, not many teams travel to North Korea and come away with a good result. There could be many factors for this and not all of them down to football alone. Having minders watching your every movie can't be too helpful and not having contact with the outside world must be a pain.

All these things will add to teams discomfort about staying there, and this kind of environment will play right into North Korea's hands once the game rolls around, with their opponent counting down the days until they can get the hell out of dodge.

It's going to be intriguing to see who comes out on top, South Korea definitely have the upper hand when it comes to talented players, but it all boils down to, "can the South Koreans do it on a wet and windy Tuesday night in Pyongyang?"

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