Sorry, “DPR Korea”, as they demand to be called. Either way North Korea joined New Zealand and South Africa in being patronised half to death by British broadcasters. They may have formed one third of George Bush’s Axis of Evil back in 2002 but in 2010 they are part of the Axis of Plucky, the Axis of Oh Didn’t They Do Well Bless Them.
In truth North Korea played some good stuff here, genuinely interested in attacking despite lining up against the best footballing nation in the world, a team ranked 104 places above them in FIFA’s (ludicrous) ranking table, with five across the back. It took a moment of individual skill to break the deadlock, Maicon fooling everyone with a low shot from a ridiculous angle from which everyone expected him to cross. It was either a work of genius or the prettiest shanked cross of all time, though Maicon’s previous in this area suggests he should be given the benefit of the doubt.
“I just went for goal,” he said after the match. “I remembered the one I scored against Portugal. I shot and thought ‘it’s in God’s will’,” he continued, prompting the papers to link Manchester City with a move for God once the world cup is over.
Speaking of Manchester City, Robinho was outstanding. His pass in to Elano for Brazil’s second was better than anything he produced in a City shirt and will have Roberto Mancini wondering where it all went wrong. Robinho has been tipped by many to shine at this World Cup and it will be interesting to see where he ends up next season, after his continued insistence he will not return to Manchester from his loan spell with Brazilian club Santos. His threaded through ball went past five North Korea players and Elano drove the ball across the keeper into the corner.
North Korea had a well-deserved consolation goal when Yun-Nam Ji burst into the box, past two players and thumped the ball past Julio Cesar. In truth Brazil had the quality to win this game comfortably, but this was a reserved, at times workmanlike performance. Kaka in particular was not his usual self and he will want to prove that his form at Real Madrid has just been a blip. Brazil will top this group regardless. With Ivory Coast and Portugal so disappointing earlier in the day, Plucky Little Evil Little North Korea might just fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages.