Poker-faced North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun still has his eyes on a second-round berth for his unfashionable side after their fighting 2-1 loss to Brazil at the World Cup on Tuesday.
The North Koreans, playing in their first World Cup for 44 years, fought hard to keep out the five-time world champions until their defensive shield was breached 10 minutes after halftime.
Inter Milan right-back Maicon crowned his man-of-the-match performance with a stunning angled volley to break the deadlock and midfielder Elano made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
Ji Yun Nam netted a consolation goal on 89 minutes to give the North Koreans some reward for their performance before 54,331 fans at a bitterly-cold Ellis Park.
But despite not coming away with any points from their tough opening game, coach Kim is still chasing glory for his team from the secretive communist north Asian state at the South African tournament.
“In order to reach our goal, we have to win our matches,” Kim said.
“I can’t reveal our strategy, in the next five days before the next game we are going to prepare and review it and we will decide then if we are going to attack or defend more.
“Winning is the objective, but our aim is to win through to the second round.”
Kim jumped for joy when Ji scored in the final minutes.
“If you saw me being happy at our goal, it is because we showed that we are capable of scoring against the Brazilians and that is something to be proud of,” he said.
Based on Tuesday’s stubborn resistance North Korea may yet cause further irritation to Group G hotshots Portugal in Cape Town on Monday and Ivory Coast in Nelspruit four days later.
“We didn’t win, but we have picked up some confidence and I think we will do well in the next two games,” Kim said.
“We never stopped looking for goals, we were able to score one goal, the team fought bravely, but against Brazil we weren’t really fast enough down the wings, which is where their goals came from.”
Star striker Jong Tae Se, who cried while the North Korea national anthem was played before the kickoff, said he was disappointed to lose.
“I don’t feel very well about losing,” Japanese-based Jong said. “We could have got the three points and the win and it will be very different to our next game against Portugal.
“We must beat Portugal to stay alive in the World Cup.”