Canberra: DPR Korea coach Jo Tong-sop felt his side were “unlucky” not to leave with a point from Australia’s capital after their narrow 2-1 defeat to Group B winners China, following their second half fight back at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
Stunned by a goal within the match’s first minute from China midfielder Sun Ke, Jo saw the same player score again before half-time to increase the deficit and his side overmatched in the first period of their final AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 fixture.
In the second half, though, DPR Korea came out strongly and pulled a goal back after Jong Il-gwan’s effort ricocheted in off China forward Gao Lin and the Chollima almost found a leveler in spectacular fashion on the 81st minute as So Hyon-uk hit the frame of the goal late on with a stunning volley.
“At half-time I told the players we should concentrate more on defending and once we have the ball we have to focus on making better passes and making it more tough for China.
That helped to motivate the players more and their mental concentration increased,” said Jo.
“I think in the second half the play was a lot better from the team, I planned from the beginning that we would use the last 10 to 15 minutes for substitutes because our players would not be strong enough.
“I planned to use the last 15 minutes to attack with these fresh legs and I think this worked pretty well but we were unlucky.”
With their third consecutive defeat in the competition, DPR Korea exit the tournament without a point from the continental championship for the first time in their history, having previously appeared in the 1980, 1992 and 2011 editions.
Despite the setback, Jo does see room for optimism in the future for the national team, particularly as the development teams continue to bear fruit in continental competitions with
DPR Korea last year winning the AFC U-16 Championship and reaching the final of both the AFC U-19 Championship and the Asian Games.
“Although our matches were not satisfactory at this tournament, I think this is a very valuable experience for the whole team,” said Jo.
“While those who are waiting at home are not very happy about the results they will encourage our team to make better games going forward.
“This tournament will be a good experience and motivate our team for further success in future tournaments like FIFA World Cup Qualifying and the next AFC Asian Cup.”