Asians can and able
Asian nations were dealt a tough draw for the next year's World Cup but the consensus on Saturday was that getting through the group stages will be possible.other Updated: Dec 06, 2009 01:35 IST
Asian nations were dealt a tough draw for the next year's World Cup but the consensus on Saturday was that getting through the group stages will be possible.
Australia, the region’s standout performer at Germany 2006, were pitted with Germany, Ghana and Serbia while North Korea are in the inevitable ‘Group of Death’. They face favourites Brazil and Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast and Portugal.
Four Asian teams were in the hat at the glittering ceremony on Friday with Japan grouped alongside the Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark and South Korea thrown together with Argentina, Nigeria and Greece.
Getting a result in their opening matches will be critical and the mind games have already begun with Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer saying Germany will be under huge pressure to win their clash on June 13 in Durban.
“Obviously, it's a massive game first up and the great thing for us is that Germany will be under all the pressure,” the Fulham stopper said. “Everyone will expect Germany to win, they will be under enormous pressure back home to win the game and the footballing world will be thinking the same thing.”
North Korea, playing at their first World Cup since 1966, face a formidable task in Group G but could surprise, with coach Kim Jong-Hun moulding a hard-working and disciplined outfit.
They kick off with a blockbuster against five-time champions Brazil in Johannesburg on June 15.
The others were Argentina's Diego Maradona, who was banned, and New Zealand's Ricky Herbert, who had commitments in Australia's A-League.
South Korea are Asia's most experienced campaigners, playing in their seventh consecutive World Cup, and get their tournament underway in Group B with a game against Greece in Port Elizabeth on June 12.
Coach Huh Jung-Moo is confident of steering them into the round of 16 at least despite Argentina and Nigeria being superior sides. "We were drawn in the so-called Group of Death in Asian qualifying and we made it through," said Huh.
"We believe we can do the job again in South Africa. I will go back to South Korea and start working on our strategy."
Japan are a wildcard and will be targetting second in Group F with the Netherlands clear favourites to top the table.
Their opener against Cameroon will be crucial.