North Korea finalise preparations for Asian Cup

North Korea finalise preparations for Asian Cup

The North Korean Football Association has confirmed the squad that will compete at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar next month, with the 23 man line-up containing a number of familiar names from June’s FIFA World Cup tournament alongside some promising youngsters who starred in November’s Asian Games.

VfL Bochum striker Jong Tae-se, who almost missed the tournament due to an administration error on the part of the North Korean FA, will lead the front line in Doha and he will be joined in the squad by a number of other overseas stars. Russia-based Hong Yong-jo will captain the squad at the tournament whilst An Young-hak, who recently joined Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol after leaving Omiya Ardija, is likely to anchor the midfield. FC Wil pair Cha Jong-hyok and Kim Kuk-jin have also been called up for the tournament.

Another noteworthy inclusion in the squad is Vegalta Sendai midfielder Ryang Yong-gi. The 28 year-old netted eleven times for his club as they finished fourteenth in 2010 following their return to top flight Japanese football, and he was MVP and top scorer at the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup tournament that North Korea won to book their place in Qatar.

Ri Kwang-chon, who scored North Korea’s solitary goal when they defeated South Korea at the Asian Games in November, has been handed a place in the squad whilst 86-times capped Pyongyang City midfielder Kim Yong-jun is the most experienced player to be called up.

Following victories in two four-nation football tournaments held in Vietnam in October and November, North Korea have played a number of friendlies in preparation for the Asian Cup with mixed results. They drew 1-1 away to Yemen in early November before losing 2-1 to Kuwait in Cairo on Christmas Eve. They recorded a 2-2 draw in their second match with Kuwait on December 27th before today’s 1-0 win against Asian Cup hosts Qatar in Doha. Their final friendly match before the group stages begin is against Bahrain on January 4th.

North Korea are in Group D at the tournament along with defending champions Iraq, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, with the top two sides qualifying for the knockout quarter-final stages.

North Korea’s 2011 AFC Asian Cup Squad

Ri Myong-guk (Pyongyang City)
Kim Myong-gil (Amrokgang)
Ri Kwang-il (Sobaeksu)

Cha Jong-hyok (Wil)
Ri Jun-il (Sobaeksu)
Pak Nam-chol (Amrokgang)
Ri Kwang-chon (April 25)
Ji Yun-nam (April 25)
Jon Kwang-ik (Amrokgang)
Pak Chol-jin (Amrokgang)
Ri Kwang-hyok (Kyonggongop)

Choe Myong-ho (Pyongyang City)
Ryang Yong-gi (Vegalta Sendai)
Mun In-guk (April 25)
Pak Nam-chol (April 25)
Kim Yong-jun (Pyongyang City)
An Yong-hak (Kashiwa Reysol)
Kim Kuk-jin (Wil)

Jong Tae-se (VfL Bochum)
Hong Yong-jo (Rostov)
Choe Kum-chol (Rimyongsu)
An Chol-hyok (Rimyongsu)
Pak Chol-min (Rimyongsu)

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