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North Korea earn moral victory, KCNA hails effort

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - North Korea did not get the win over Brazil they were confidently predicting before their Group G opener but they earned a moral victory by scoring against the five-times world champions on Tuesday.

North Korea's Ji Yun-nam celebrates his goal during the 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match against Brazil at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The North could hardly have asked for a tougher game to mark their return to the World Cup after 44 years, but their superbly organised defence thwarted Brazil time and time again before being breached twice in second half.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said coach Kim Jong-hun’s side had matched the South Americans all the way in the 2-1 defeat at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

“From the outset of the match the two teams fought a seesaw battle,” the KCNA reported. “The DPRK footballers created good shooting chances, not losing their confidence even after losing two goals.”

Trailing 2-0 following goals from Maicon and Elano, North Korea suddenly stole the momentum and their pressure paid off in the dying minutes.

“At about the 88th minute of the match Jong Tae-se headed the ball before passing it to Ji Yun-nam who powerfully kicked it into the rival’s goalmouth, scoring a goal,” the KCNA said.

With Portugal and Ivory Coast drawing 0-0 in the other group game, North Korea sit at the bottom of the table but coach Kim Jong-hun said his side had learned a lot from the defeat to Brazil.

“Although we didn’t win we gained a lot of experience and we will have a lot more confidence going into the other two group games,” he told a news conference.

“We have five days to prepare for our next match (against Portugal), we’ll review our tactics and decide whether we need to be a bit more attacking or a bit more defensive.”

North Korea round out their group campaign against Ivory Coast on June 25.

Editing by Nigel Hunt