D-day for Swedes against N. Koreans


WASHINGTON: North Korea can take a major step toward making the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals with a victory tomorrow over Sweden, who face a do-or-die showdown to escape the “Group of Death”. 

After a 3-1 loss to reigning champion United States here on Sunday, Sweden cannot afford to fall to Asian champion North Korea, who began with a 3-0 Group A victory on Saturday over African champions Nigeria. 

The winner tomorrow in Philadelphia will likely reach the quarter-finals while the loser will probably head home early. 

“We must win,” Swedish defender Jane Toernqvist said. “We have to work harder, press harder. They like to attack so we have to press them upfield so they can’t attack. We have to have courage.” 

North Korean coach Kim Jong-man, wearing a pin over his heart that features the face of the Communist nation’s former leader Kim Il-Sung, plans to alter his system to keep Sweden guessing and prepare for Sunday’s US showdown. 

“We’ll find out how well we cope with the Swedish and US teams. These are very strong teams,” Jong-man said. “They will take the necessary measures to cope with our team. In order to have success against Sweden and the US, we will make the necessary changes in strategy.” 

North Koreans have been a mystery to most rivals since making major changes after failing to qualify for the 1999 Women’s World Cup. 

“We changed the generational players of the team,” Jong-man said. “We selected very powerful and very clever players for the national team. After re-focusing the team, we tried to make this team much more powerful.” 

Mission accomplished. North Koreans have won two Asian titles and an Asian Games crown and played few tune-ups against Cup rivals, keeping foes in the dark about the limits of their fast and physical style. – AFP 

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