Saturday 17 March 2018

North Korea drop the ball as striker forced into 'keeper role

Russell Kempson

WAS it a cunning plan conjured by a team from one of the most secret societies on the planet? Maybe it was, as has been suggested, just an "administrative error". Whatever it was, Kim Myong Won, the North Korea striker, is likely to take no part in the World Cup finals that start a week today.

Kim's probable exclusion would appear to fall into the cock-up category rather than any conspiracy out of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Even Kim Jong Il, their supreme leader, could not have dreamt up such a hare-brained scheme.

It was a third Kim -- Jong Hun, the North Korea coach -- who named Kim Myong Won, the Amrokgang forward, as a third goalkeeper in his 23-strong squad. It would, Kim No 3 perhaps believed, give his tournament underdogs an extra option up front.

FIFA was not amused and ruled that no one will be allowed to play as an outfield player if he has been put on the list as a goalkeeper.

So Kim cannot plunder the defences of Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast, whom North Korea meet in group G. Nor will he be able to attempt to emulate his illustrious forefathers, who toppled Italy on their way to the quarter-finals in England in 1966, the last time the North appeared in the finals.

All that Kim (26) can hope for is that Ri Myong Guk and Kim Myong Gil, the genuine goalkeepers, get injured or suspended and then he might be able to play after all -- albeit between the sticks.

Sadly, history suggests otherwise. Only four teams, out of 371 World Cup qualifiers for the finals, have used their three goalkeepers.

France did in 1978, including their gloriously named third choice, Dominique Dropsy. Belgium did in 1982, when the stark raving Jean-Marie Pfaff was dropped for pretending to have drowned in the swimming pool at the team hotel.

  • Bohemians will welcome Aston Villa to Dalymount Park for a friendly on Saturday July 24, 3.0.

Irish Independent

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