NELSPRUIT, June 26 (Reuters) - North Korean players need to
gain experience in Europe to make an impact at future World
Cups, according to striker Jong Tae-se.
In only their second appearance at a World Cup finals the
Koreans lost all three group games to Brazil, Portugal and Ivory
Coast, conceding 12 goals and scoring only once.
Friday's 3-0 defeat to the Ivorians highlighted the gulf in
class between North Korea and the top international teams. Jong
said spirit and togetherness could only take North Korea so far,
the players needed exposure to top level football to improve.
"We need more experience playing in other countries, like
(Rostov's) Hong Yong-jo. I am just playing in Japan so I have to
transfer to Europe," said Jong, who plays for J-League side
"One of the good things about our football is that everybody
was playing for the team for a year, so we made good
relationships and good friendships but now that's not enough.
"There is a very big difference between the top of the world
teams and our football team and we have to change many things."
North Korea earned a host of new admirers at the World Cup
thanks to their passion, sense of fair play and perseverance
with the passing game.
From the outpouring of emotion following Ji Yun-nam's late
goal against Brazil to Jong Tae-se's tears of pride listening to
the national anthem, few sides have shown as much passion in
playing for their country than the Koreans.
While it is unclear how much the people of North Korea
actually saw of their team's exploits in South Africa, coach Kim
Jong-hun is convinced there will be a positive impact.
"Even though we didn't get the results, a lot of young
children in North Korea will be motivated to get interested in
football," he told a news conference.
"We have a lot of young players in North Korea with great
potential both physically and technically. I think we will see a
lot more good players in the future ... and I firmly believe we
will be there at the next World Cup."
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