World Cup: North Korea
(David Vincent / AP)
The North Korea team poses before a friendly match against Nantes on Oct. 9, 2009, in France.
Men's ranking: 105
Overall World Cup record: 1-2-1
Coach: Kim Jong-Hun
Best performance: Quarterfinals, 1966
Overview: Making their first appearance in the World Cup finals in 44 years, the North Koreans face long odds in South Africa, where they are included with Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast in the so-called "group of death" in the first round. Although the North Koreans are big and fast, they are painfully short on international experience, fielding a roster made up almost entirely of players from domestic leagues. Because North Korea prefers a conservative, defensive approach, keeper Ri Myong-Guk will be key to the team's performance. -- Kevin Baxter