Friday, June 25, 2010

North Korea vs Ivory Coast - Preview

North Korea
Ivory Coast

Group G, 14:00 GMT, June 25, 2010
Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit, South Africa

Ivory Coast need something approaching a miracle if they are to prolong their participation at the World Cup. Sven-Goran Eriksson's side must beat North Korea, hope that Brazil do likewise to Portugal and enjoy a nine-goal swing if they are to snatch second place from the European side. However, a sliver of comfort comes in the fact that North Korea conceded seven in their last outing.
The Chollima's humbling at the hands of Portugal means they are out of the competition, but having had their embarrassment in Cape Town broadcast live to the North Korean nation - a rarity in the secluded state - they will be wary of bringing the country into further disrepute. A performance more in keeping with their 2-1 defeat to Brazil will be required.

Team Stat Comparison

North KoreaIvory Coast
Matches Played22
Table Position43
Goal Difference-8-2
Goals for *0.01.0
Goals against *0.03.0
Last 5L-LL-D
Last 5 homeD
Last 5 awayL-LL
*  Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club
Stats: North Korea | Ivory Coast

Competition Stats

North KoreaIvory Coast
GoalsJi Yun-Nam 1Didier Drogba 1
YellowsHong Yong-Jo 1Didier Zokora 1
Squads: North Korea | Ivory Coast

North Korea player to watch: Cha Jong-Hyok. While North Korea's defence clearly crumbled as they conceded six in the second half against Portugal, the right-back has still been one of his country's standout performers in South Africa. Surging forward at every given opportunity, Cha boasts impressive stamina and no little skill. His service from a wide position is important for North Korea and he is not afraid of shooting from range. Cha is the very model of a modern full-back, including in his propensity to get caught out of position.
Ivory Coast player to watch: Gervinho. The forward was relegated to the bench for the defeat to Brazil but benefitted from a poor performance from Aruna Dindane and came on after 54 minutes. A threat from an advanced position on the wing, Gervinho can be relied upon to supply some trickery and that may be needed to unlock a five-man North Korea defence.
Key battle: Hong Jong-Jo v Yaya Toure. Hong is the only North Korean player to ply his trade in Europe, representing Russia's Rostov, and is a key member of a side designed to counter-attack. Though he can play as an advanced forward, his best position sees him drop in behind lone striker Jong Tae-Se and that should put him firmly on Toure's radar. The Barcelona midfielder is a bullish presence in the holding role and will look to restrict Hong's influence on the game. Boasting fine technique, Toure is also instrumental in launching Ivorian attacks.
Trivia: In his previous role as Notts County director of football, Sven-Goran Eriksson was sounded out about leading North Korea at the World Cup. He turned them down, and was appointed Elephants boss in March.
Stats: There has only been one African win in nine World Cup encounters against Asian opposition. That came in 2002 when Cameroon defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0.
Odds: North Korea (8.50), the draw (5.00) and North Korea (1.36) with Bet365. North Korea to win to nil at 11.00 looks tempting, given they are likely to close ranks after the Portugal hammering.
Prediction: Do not expect a high-scoring game, North Korea will not want to suffer another humiliation. This game will be cagey, and Ivory Coast may be on the receiving end of a shock result.

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