North Korean fans star of the show

JOHANNESBURG - Surrounded on all sides by Brazilian fans draped in gold and green, a small band of red-clad North Korean men from Pyongyang cheered their hearts out for the Asian underdogs at Ellis Park stadium on Tuesday.

Waving North Korean flags, clapping wooden blocks together and chanting in unison, the Koreans became the centre of attention before kick-off as fans and media closed in for a better look.

North Korea are appearing in their first World Cup finals since 1966 and have been drawn against Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast in Group G.

Sitting on a worn blanket cast across the stadium's freezing plastic seats, Kim Young-chul clapped and cheered and shouted as a cheer leader directed the group of middle-aged men.

"I came all the way from Pyongyang," Kim told Reuters, proudly sporting his red jacket and scarf with the North's distinctive flag emblazoned on it. "It's a great atmosphere in here."

North Korea famously reached the quarter-finals of the 1966 World Cup in England after a shock 1-0 win over Italy in the group stage.

But few give them any chance of slaying South American giants Brazil or escaping a group that also includes Portugal and Ivory Coast.

But Kim thought his side had a chance and would do all he could to help them against Brazil.

"If we cheer hard enough with our hearts we can win," he added with a warm smile that revealed poor dental work.

"One goal should be enough I think."

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