North Korea manager Jo Tong Sop was reserved on Saturday after his team’s 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan.
The defence-heavy East Asian side were slow in marking Igor Sergeev on his goal just after the hour mark, and otherwise kept the White Wolves on their toes till the bitter end.
“Before the match we planned on concentrating on defending and counters,” Jo told reporters at the Stadium Australia.” In the middle [of the match), we had a chance for one goal. I still wanted to maintain that strategy, but unfortunately it didn’t go very well.”
The 55-year-old also blamed poor weather, which at times included torrential rains, for his team’s performance.
“It disturbed our playing,” he said. “We couldn’t [continue to] play strongly. The
rain gave our team trouble.”
A late header by Pak Kwang Ryong, which nearly salvaged a draw for the North Koreans when it was parried away by Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov, provided inspiration for their next match against Saudi Arabia.
“[Pak’s shot] was really unfortunate, but the result is the result,” Jo lamented. “We’d
like to create better chances and if we put our foot forward to attack more, we can make more chances than we did this time.
“We still have two matches left and I think we still have a chance, so we don’t want to miss out on it.”
North Korea will look to recover their form against Saudi Arabia on January 14 in Melbourne before closing out the group against China on January 18 in Canberra.