East Asian teams will have uphill battles in advancing to the second round of the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa. Japan, South Korea, and North Korea, along with Australia represent Asia.
Last Friday in Cape Town, the draw to determine the eight groups of four teams each for the competition took place. The results give reason to expect an exciting first round next June.
In Group G, the so-called “group of death”, North Korea faces Portugal, Ivory Coast, and five-time champion Brazil in round-robin play.
Each team faces its opponent once. The top two in each group move on to the Round of 16. This is North Korea’s second appearance in the competition’s history. The last time was in England in 1966. North Korea is the 2010 World Cup’s second-weakest team.
“When I saw we got into Group G, I smiled a bitter smile,” North Korean midfielder An Yong-hak told Goal.com. “I had said before that I want to play against the big teams cause there are no weak teams in the World Cup. But I'm excited that we will play against Brazil, Portugal and Cote d'Ivoire. How can we play against these kinds of teams except at the World Cup?”
Japan, No. 2 in Asia, plays in Group E alongside Holland, Denmark, and Cameroon.
South Korea is in Group B against Argentina, Greece, and Nigeria. In the 2002 South Korea-Japan event, South Korea made it to the semifinals, but lost to Turkey in the third-place game.
World Cup 2010: Group G Reactions - Experts Call the Draw
December 5, 2009
World Cup 2010 draw: live
By Steve Wilson and Mike Norrish
December 4, 2009
Check out this video of K' Naan performing "Wavin' Flag," the anthom for the 2010 World Cup games. The Somali-born rapper grew up in Toronto.