Asian Cup Preview: China v DPR Korea

China will play DPR Korea at the Canberra Stadium on Sunday from 8pm AEDT.

DPR Korea will be looking to show the football world they are more than capable at this level and build on their attacking style displayed last Wednesday. 

Returning home with three losses isn’t acceptable for Jo Song-top.  Although the team showed glimpses of positive play throughout their 4-1 loss to Saudi Arabia the team will be looking for a result in their final game and a more disciplined defensive effort.

China has top spot already sewn up and could take this opportunity to rest a few key players. Making it out of the group stage for the first time in 11 years, the Chinese will be keen to progress past the quarter final stage.  

With only four days between games Alain Perrin will have some tough decisions to make when selecting his starting XI. 

The supreme fitness of China made Uzbekistan look second rate, and this could again be the case with DPR Korea. The midfield of China should appreciate the cooler Canberra conditions and control the bulk of the play.  China averages over 100 passes more than DPR per game.

Canberra Stadium hosts its only Group B game of the tournament and it will be China’s first venture out of Brisbane.


Played: 18 China: 9 Draws: 4 DPR Korea 5

The game:

With the alternate Group B match deciding who will join China in the next round this game could be forgotten.  Make sure you set the reminder to at least watch this game.  DPR Korea managed to take the game to Saudi Arabia in the first 20 minutes, and even find them ahead with positive, pressing football.  This seemed a new approach from a nation normally reliant on resilient defending.  The new approach appears to be the way forward for Jo Song-top and his men.  He is a strong believer that the nation needs to adopt this approach if they are to compete with the better known clubs in Asia.

DPR Korea should be careful not to commit too many long balls.  The team has become reliant on looping balls and counter attacks, whilst the Chinese team are more compact and tend to set up their attacks in the more traditional way.  China is far more patient on the ball and commits far less mistakes.

The big issue:

With nothing to play for China could find it hard to remain motivated for the clash.  The sense of knowing you’ve already topped the group could have a mental and physical effect on the players.  On paper you could say the same about DPR Korea but in essence they have everything to play for.  The future direction of football in DPR Korea could ride on the final result of this game.  Jo Song-top is in his second stint in the head position and if he cannot deliver desired results this could be his final stint at the top level.

Game breaker:

Attacking defender Cha Jong-hyok found his feet under the new found style of DPR Korea against Saudi Arabia and the veteran of 46 caps looked dangerous every time he found himself on the ball.  At 29 this could be the last major tournament Jong-hyok plays but his ability to thrive under pressure and create attacking moves could extend his career is he manages a solid game against China.


China will be too strong for DPR Korea, but not before an early scare.  China could rest a few players with the quarter finals and squad balance in mind, but I don’t perceive too many changes for DPR Korea.  The team will be under great pressure to return home with a win, and the game in Canberra presents that chance.  China has one of the most underrated squads in the tournament and could create waves over the next fortnight.

China 3-1 DPR Korea