Preview: While most teams at this age group are known for their attacking prowess, Korea prefer to play a pragmatic style of play. Not surprisingly, they only won two of their matches at the AFC U-16 Championship last year. However, their semi-final finish is proof that their tactics can work wonders.
Under the tutelage of coach Yun Jong, the Korea DPR team is a solid defensive unit and they like to counter-attack with fast, direct running through the central area rather than the flanks. They may not be the most exciting or free-scoring team to watch on the football pitch. But they are hoping to upset the heavyweights in their group by retaining possession and striking whenever possible.
In the absence of five-time winners Nigeria, teams like Mali, Guinea, Ghana and debutants Niger have qualified for the youth tournament. Just like hosts India, Niger will experience what it feels like to play on the grandest stage. That said, first-timers often have the tendency to take teams by surprise without notice, meaning that they can either emerge as a surprise package or display a completely different brand of football.
For a nation which has never participated at the senior level too, the U-17 World Cup comes as an opportunity to at least leave a mark. Of course, there is going to be immense pressure on Niger. Every single goal will be cherished regardless of the result and so will a single point. The only thing that should matter to the tiny nation is showing what they are capable of.
Niger were drawn in a very competitive group with Brazil, Spain and Korea. Brazil have already made headlines for winning the U-17 South American Championship earlier this year, where they scored 24 goals and let in just three, including a 5-0 win over Chile. The Spanish team won the UEFA U-17 Championship earlier this year and had six players from Barcelona’s La Masia and five from Real Madrid’s academy. Finally, the North Koreans have been consistent in recent games.
Against such difficult and diverse opponents, the West African country has a mountain to climb if they want to make it beyond the group stages. But, as debutants, their only task should be to enjoy football and at least make a mark in the prestigious tournament by reaching the quarter-finals.
North Korea: Sin Tae Song, Ri Hyok Sin, Kim Kyong Sok, Kye Tam, Sin Kwang Sok, Han Kyong Hun, Kim Hwi Hwang, Kim Ju Song, Kim Chung Jin, Kim Pom Hyok, Kung Jin Song, Ri Kang Guk, Ri Hyon Il, Han Jin Bom, Cha Kwang, Ri Il Ju, Yun Min, Jong Ryong Hun, Kwon Nam Hyok, Paek Kwang Min, Kim Chol Jin.
Niger: Moussa Laouali, Yacine Wa Massamba, Mahamadou Mahamane, Nasser Mahaman, Farouk Idrissa, Ismael Issaka, Habibou Sofiane, Kairou Amoustapha, Rachid Alfari, Karim Tinni, Djibrilla Ibrahim, Yacouba Aboubacar, Kader Aboubacar, Rachid Soumana, Abdoulaye Boubacar, Ibrahim Boubacar, Ibrahim Namata, Salim Abdourahmane, Hamid Galissoune, Khaled Lawali.
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Updated Date: Oct 07, 2017 22:04:11 IST