SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea striker Jong Tae-se has promised to score a “goal a game” at the World Cup and lead his country into the knockout stages of the South Africa finals.
The Japan-based forward, dubbed the “People’s Wayne Rooney” by Asian media after the England striker, predicted North Korea would shock Group G rivals Portugal and Ivory Coast and progress along with Brazil.
“I will keep my promise of scoring one goal per game,” Jong, who scored both goals in his country’s 2-2 draw with Greece in a recent warm-up game, told South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo.
“In our group it will be Brazil and North Korea who will advance.”
North Korea are making their first World Cup finals appearance since their astonishing run to the quarter-finals of the 1966 tournament won by hosts England.
They could hardly have been given a tougher assignment in South Africa with Portugal and Ivory Coast also drawn in their group.
Training at night under heavy guard and behind barbed wire in the township of Tembisa, about 30 minutes from Johannesburg, however, North Korea insisted they were relishing the challenge.
“I want to surprise the world,” said midfielder An Yong-hak, after passing the three large North Korea flags in the lobby of the team hotel to board the bus for training.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo. Editing by Jon Bramley