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On paper it’s a mismatch like none other as 105th ranked team in the world takes on a team that is ranked 7th in the FIFA World rankings. However, football is not played on paper and on the basis of player performances. The Koreans will be upbeat about their chances tonight when they take on Carlos Quieroz’s Portugal.


For the Korean fans of a certain age, the 1966 World cup quarter final between the two countries brings back certain mist eyed memories, as the only previous time these two sides met was in a high octane encounter.  The underdogs and unfancied Koreans after shocking everyone to reach the quarter finals of the World cup threatened to continue their giant killing, as they raced on to a stunning 3-0 lead at half time. A classic performance by Eusebio, in which he scored 4 goals, saw the natural order of things being restored as Portugal won the match 5-3.


Tonight at the Green Point Stadium, the Portuguese will require another Eusebio style performance from their star man Cristiano Ronaldo, if they are to harbor any hopes of getting out of this group of death. Even more so after a disappointing draw against Ivory Coast in their opening match. Although Ronaldo showed brief glimpses of what he is capable of but he has not scored an international goal since September 2008. He is also walking a tight disciplinary rope after his appeal against a yellow card he received in the first match, and was disallowed by FIFA and one more yellow in tonight’s game will mean that he will miss the all important clash against Brazil.


Koreans on the other hand have a mystery about them too, as their players continue to train in Public gyms in Pretoria and there is still no explanation from any front that why 4 players were listed as absent from their substitute’s bench in their last game. No matter how much mystery surrounds the Asians, they have the will and motivation to upset any team in the world, as they showed in the game against the five time champions Brazil and tonight Portugal will be aware of this.


Portugal Coach Carlos Quieroz has said that his team has to go out there and attack as that is what his side is best at and with the presence of wingers like Ronaldo and Simao with Tiago, Raul Meirales and Hugo Almeida, it is difficult to argue with this fact. But tonight more than attacking flare composure will be required from the European underachievers and anything less than a win will be catastrophic for Portugal. North Korea had only 28% of possession against Brazil in their first game. The defensive shield they put up against the Brazil’s attacking trio of Robinho, Fabiano and Kaka was commendable, as it took a goal of absolute master class by Maicon to give them a breakthrough in the game. Tonight Portugal will require the guile and cunningness of Ronaldo if they are to win this game.


Portugal have only conceded 2 goals in their last 10 matches and have kept a clean sheet in 78% of the matches. They have played under Carlos Quieroz but are on a run of 4 games without a win in the World cup which is their worst ever run.


North Korea on the other hand are the only team besides Japan and Costa Rica outside Europe to have scored a goal against Brazil and have lost 5 and drawn 3 of their last 8 games.



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