Liverpudlian duo rooting for DPRK
Doha: They may not have looked the part but two Englishmen were part of the small contingent of DPR Korea fans at Qatar Sports Club Stadium on Tuesday, watching their favourite side play out a goalless draw against the United Arab Emirates in their Group D opener at the AFC Asian Cup.
Having cheered on the DPR Koreans at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa last year, Liverpudlians David and Daniel decided to take their passion further by following them to Qatar for their first appearance in the continental championship in 19 years.
“I’m here for about a week while Dan’s going to stay right through the group stage,” said David to www.the-afc.com.
“Yeah, just like at the World Cup last year when we went out after three games,” Daniel responded.
The pair were part of a maverick group of overseas fans who adopted the DPR Korea side as their team of choice ahead of the World Cup in South Africa. And while they didn’t appear to be singing along with any of the chants coming from the official group of flag-waving DPR Korea fans, who were all neatly attired in long-sleeved white shirts and ties, they nonetheless declared themselves as supporters of Jo Tong-sop’s side.
“It’s interesting to follow them just because they are still such an unknown quantity in international football,” said David in his distinctly un-Korean sounding Scouse accent.
“Yeah, they haven’t been to many international tournaments, so it’s good to see them playing here today,” chimed in Daniel.
The DPR Korean fans gave it their best effort but they were little match for the much larger group of UAE fans in the crowd of 3,639.
They may not have seen any goals but the Emirati supporters certainly created a party atmosphere as they chanted, clapped, danced, drummed and even bag-piped their way through the game.
Composed of football fans from all over the seven Emirates, including supporters of league rivals Al Ain, Al Wasl and Al Wahda, the group included many who had journeyed north by road as well as 400 who made the day trip on specially arranged flights.
The chanting was led by a megaphone-toting Al Ain fan popularly known as Al Oumda (“The Chief”) and backed by an orchestra that included drums, whistle and a lone bagpipe.
“We have maybe about 1,500 fans who travelled by road and air to get here today,” said supporters’ group organiser Sultan Al Kalbawi. “But with our next game against Iraq happening on Saturday, maybe we’ll get
more fans coming up for that game.”