North Korea eyeing Brazil


JOHANNESBURG, June 11- North Korean players Thursday talked up their chances of beating five-times world champions Brazil, saying they had a tougher mentality than the South American giants.The 105th-ranked side, who have adopted a tight-lipped approach in the run-up to the South African showpiece, gave the media a rare glimpse into their preparations at a gym session.

"The mentality for victory, strong organisational power and unity in fighting — these attributes are further ahead in us than the Brazil team, I think," midfielder An Yong-Hak told South Africa’s SuperSport TV.

"We are grouped with Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast but we will do our best with strong mentality and organisational power in order to send good news to our country and people."

The midfielder said Brazil, whom North Korea face on Tuesday, were the "strongest team in the world" but did not rule out victory, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

"The chances aren’t high but I can’t say there isn’t any chance at all," An, who plays for Japanese club Omiya Ardija, said before team training at Makhulong stadium near Johannesburg.

An also said he wanted to avenge North Korea’s loss in the 1966 quarter-finals to Portugal, who stopped the "Chollima" in their tracks in their only previous World Cup finals appearance in England.

"Revenge, we will try to get revenge for 1966," he said, adding that he would like the chance to play against Didier Drogba, who is battling to be fit to play for the Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile star striker Jong Tae-Se told FIFA’s website the North Koreans had nothing to fear from the "Group of Death."

"We think that we got a difficult group, but there is not one among us who thinks that we stand no chance at all, and we all play believing that we will win," he said.

"There’s no doubt that it will be difficult, but we believe that if we become one and play our matches, there’s no one we cannot beat. So in our coming matches against Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast we will combine our strength and be victorious."

Only a handful of the 2010 North Korean squad ply their trade overseas including Jong and fellow Japanese-born ethnic Korean An.

Striker Hong Yong-Jo is on the books of Russia’s FC Rostov.

A FIFA spokesman said Wednesday there were no immediate concerns over North Korea’s approach to the media as each team made its own arrangements, balancing its commitments with training needs.