Friday April 25, 2014

Doha: DPR Korea coach Jo Tong-sop conceded his side were well below par in their goalless draw with UAE but hoped his players would use the performance to spur them on in their remaining AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011™ Group D games and reach the quarter-finals.

Hong Yong-jo spurned a glorious opportunity to give the North Koreans an early lead at Qatar Sports Club Stadium when Jong Tae-se was felled in the box but the usually clinical midfielder saw his penalty smack the bar.

The UAE went on to dominate the large majority of the game and Jo was honest enough to admit his side were second best throughout.

“We had a chance with the penalty in the first-half but after the failure of the penalty, the players did not play well.

“In the second-half, we tried not to concede a goal and score on the counter-attack but still the players did not play well. So generally, I could say our play was not so good. It was not as we had expected.

“Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose but generally, we try not to concede a goal so we emphasise defence and in this way we organised the game.

“We try to win the match but we have experience from this game and we can take this into the next two.

“Those two teams (Iran and Iraq) will be very difficult to play against but we know their weaknesses and we will try to use that to get the points that we will qualify.”

UAE were generally regarded before the tournament as the weakest team in the group but on this evidence, that assessment seems well wide of the mark.

Nevertheless, with games against AFC Asian Cup holders Iraq and three-time champions Iran to come, Jong believes the lethargic display from a team that qualified for the 2010 World Cup was down to a certain amount of rustiness.

“The remaining two teams are stronger than the UAE but today was the first match and as you know, it is very difficult to play at full capacity in the first match,” he added.

“So we will get experience and we will try to use it to be successful in the next two matches.”

Winning the penalty aside, Jong Tae-se cut a mostly peripheral figure and was eventually substituted with eight minutes remaining.

While he has been in prolific form for club side Bochum this season, he has also been hampered by a niggling knee problem but Jo refuted suggestions his anonymous performance was down to any setback.

“The substitution of Jong Tae-se was not because of injury but because he was tired and needed to conserve energy,” he said.