The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off today in stunning fashion with Mexico taking on hosts South Africa at Soccer City, Johannesburg. As the top football teams from around the world descend on South Africa, anticipation is high for the first ever World Cup on African soil. The Far East is well represented in the competition, with South Korea, Japan, and North Korea representing the Asia continent. Keep it here at channelAPA.com for weekly updates as those three teams attempt to shock the world in their conquest for Asia’s first World Cup trophy. In the mean time, below is a quick cheat sheet on Asia’s three participants.
Current FIFA Ranking: 47th
Nickname: Red Devils
World Cup Appearances: 8 (including 2010)
Best Result: 4th (2002)
Captain: Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)
Group Opponents: Argentina, Nigeria, Greece
Group Synopses: With Argentina being the runaway favorites for group play, it will be a hard fought battle between Greece, Nigeria, and South Korea for the 2nd qualification place. The Nigeria Super Eagles have the home field advantage, while Greece (2004 European Champions) is always a difficult opponent on the big stage. In the end, it might well come down to goal difference to decide who advances from this very competitive group.
Game to watch: Nigeria vs. South Korea (June 22nd)
Current FIFA Ranking: 45th
Nickname: Samurai Blue
World Cup Appearances: 4 (including 2010)
Best Result: Round of 16 (2002)
Captain: Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg)
Group Opponents: Netherlands, Denmark, Cameroon
Group Synopses: Given the recent struggles with the national team, Japan enters this World Cup with modest expectations. It will be difficult for the Blue Samurai to break through and finish 1st or 2nd in the group, but given the individual talents of Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F. Marinos), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania), Japan will none the less prove to be hearty opponents for the more fancied Dutch & Cameroon sides.
Game to watch: Cameroon vs. Japan (June 14th)
Current FIFA Ranking: 105th
Nickname: Winged Horses
World Cup Appearances: 2 (including 2010)
Best Result: Quarterfinals (1966)
Captain: Hong Yong-Jo (Rostov)
Group Opponents: Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast
Group Synopses: Group of Death… North Korea is expected to offer little resistance to the powerhouse sides in this Group. However, the same could be said of the 1966 North Korean team, a side which shocked the world by defeating the heavily favored Italians on route to a quarterfinal appearance. Given the recent controversies surrounding the North Korea government & economy, the World Cup offers its weary citizens a deserved respite from troubles at home.
Game to watch: Brazil vs. North Korea (June 15th)