“We are sure that we will win. We’ve been strongly motivated. We shall beat them for sure.”
As the February 9th World Cup qualifier between Japan and North Korea draws nearer, it would seem the political posturing has now started in earnest.
The coming game will be played in Japan, and due to the importance of the game and the tension between the two countries, it will be interesting to see how the usually impeccably behaved Japanese fans react. When the teams met 20 years ago in Pyongyang, the Japanese were subjected to an intimidating and off-putting silence every time they gained possession. And in another trip in 1989, the team complained about a lack of food. A situation that resulted in some of the players having to eat instant noodles, which fortunately they had taken with them.
But with the 1st leg still unplayed, talk of the return fixture has already started. And rumours have surfaced that in a bid to hinder Japan’s superior technical ability, the North Koreans will let the grass on the pitch grow a little longer than usual.
A story that this picture of Kim Jong-Il and a gang of grinning groundsmen does little to discredit.