North Korea consider tactical change

CAPE TOWN, June 22 (Reuters) - North Korea are pondering a change in tactics for their final Group G match against the Ivory Coast on Friday as they try to salvage some pride from their first World Cup appearance for 44 years.

The Asian side, who have already been eliminated, want to be remembered more for the disciplined football that drew wide admiration in their opening 2-1 defeat by Brazil than the second-half collapse that saw them thrashed 7-0 by Portugal.

Ivory Coast need a big win and must hope Brazil beat Portugal to stand any chance of reaching the second round, while the Koreans will be anxious to revive the spirit they showed against the Brazilians which earned so much respect.

"As a coach I think it was my fault for not planning the right strategy," Korea coach Kim Jong-hun said after Monday's mauling by Portugal, adding that his side had not been able to balance their attack and defence, making them vulnerable.

"In the final match against Ivory Coast we will have to think over our tactics," he added.

Kim has tended to use a five-man defence behind a holding midfielder with Jon Tae-se left up front alone to use his height and strength to hold the ball up and bring supporting players into the game such as willing captain Hong-Yong-jo.


He changed from 5-1-3-1 to 4-3-3 against Portugal so may be inclined to return to his favoured five at the back to avoid being overrun in defence as they were in Cape Town.

A packed defence helped North Korea to keep Brazil at bay for 55 minutes a week ago and they even managed a consolation goal against the world's top ranked team.

The Koreans also held Portugal, ranked third, until the 29th minute, mounting attacks throughout the first half before their defence crumbled in the second as the rampant Portuguese recorded their biggest ever World Cup win.

Only two North Koreans have picked up yellow cards so far, testament to the fair way in which the Asians have played and which left Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz full of praise, adding he would support North Korea in their last game.

"The North Koreans played in a very dignified manner without fouling any other players and with their heads very high."

"I wish and hope that North Korea will be able to obtain at least one point at this World Cup given their attitude and performance both against Brazil and us," Queiroz said.

With North Korea likely to struggle to make a swift return to the World Cup, the team will want to give their people in the impoverished and isolated state something to cheer.

Asked how North Koreans at home would react to the 7-0 loss to Portugal, Kim said: "I think they'll look at our next game. We've one left and they'll be rooting for us to play well."