North Korea is showing off its uncanny fitness.
The North Korean national soccer team defeated Bahrain 2-0 in the round of 16 at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Sunday at the Zhejiang Provincial Sabodae East Stadium in Jinhua, China.
With four games under their belt, it’s worth noting the North Korean starting lineup. Surprisingly, North Korea didn’t make a single change to its starting lineup between the third game of the group stage and the round of 16. It was literally ‘copy and paste’.
Starting with goalkeeper Kang Joo-hyuk, the 11 players are Jang Kook-chul, Kim Kyung-seok, Kim Yoo-sung, Ri Il-sung, Kang Kook-chul, Baek Cheong-sung, Kim Kook-beom, Kim Bum-hyuk, Ri Jo-guk, and Kim Kook-jin. North Korean coach Kim Jong-nam has put his absolute trust in them.
The Asian Games are notorious for their tight schedule. Games are played every two to three days. North Korea played their first group game on the 19th, their second on the 21st, and their third on the 24th.
Unlike South Korea, which utilized proper rotation to prepare for the tournament and beyond, North Korea started the same lineup for every game.
Even the substitutions remained largely unchanged. In the first game against Chinese Taipei, Hwang Chan-jun (2), Kim Hyon (7), Gye Tam (8), and Park Kwang-chun (6) came off the bench; in the second game against Kyrgyzstan, Hwang Chan-jun, Kim Hyon, and Park Kwang-chun came off the bench; in the final group game against Indonesia, only Hwang Chan-jun was used; and in the round of 16, Kim Ji-sung (12) appeared for the first time alongside Hwang Chan-jun.
Out of the 22-man roster, only 16 players saw action, including the starting 11 and five players who came on as substitutes.메이저사이트
South Korea utilized rotation in the group stage to prepare for the big tournament. North Korea, with similar substitutions, is a far cry from South Korea.
Still, the physicality of the North Korean players was impressive. In attacking situations, North Korea attacked the defense with a lot of movement and activity. While they lacked detail, they were able to break down the flanks in an instant, an attack that would not be possible without strong physicality.
North Korea will have three days off and will play the winner of Japan and Myanmar in the quarterfinals on the first of next month. With plenty of time to recover, the quarterfinals will likely feature the same lineup.
If North Korea makes it all the way to the final, it’s entirely possible that the starting lineup will be the same from the first game of the preliminary round to the final game of the tournament.