Ahn happy with Group of Death draw

SINGAPORE - Being drawn with heavyweights Brazil and Portugal at the 2010 World Cup finals is a good thing, North Korean midfielder Ahn Young-hak said on Monday.

North Korea will play in the tournament for the first time since 1966, when they reached the quarter-finals, but their hopes of repeating that run look faint after being drawn in Group G along with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast.

"At first I thought it would have been better if we avoided such strong teams as Brazil and Portugal," Ahn told the Asian Football Confederation website.

"But on second thoughts it would be best if we play the best teams in the world in the best competition of the world."

North Korea, the second lowest-ranked team at the finals, begin their campaign against five-times champions Brazil at Ellis Park on June 15 before facing Portugal in Cape Town and Ivory Coast in Nelspruit.

"I was not able to watch the draw live on television but now that we know the results we need to prepare properly," said Ahn, who plays for South Korean side Suwon Bluewings.

North Korea, who slumped to a 4-1 friendly defeat by Zambia last month, are surprise finalists after qualifying by finishing second in their Asian qualifying group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Iran.