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North Korea, US to meet in WCup final

North Korea, US to meet in WCup final

It has taken a group of schoolgirls and the transcending capacity of sport to bring the United States and North Korea together, with the two political foes to meet in Sunday's final of football's Under-17 Women's World Cup.
The stage may be obscure _ this is the first holding of a girls' World Cup _ but any contact between two nations divided for more than half a century is rare and significant.
In a leading article Saturday, the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand's largest circulation daily newspaper, commented on the incongruity of the game.
"That a schoolgirl side from North Korea would be involved in the biggest sports event in New Zealand this weekend is peculiar in itself," the newspaper said. "We rarely see a visitor from the Hermit Kingdom."
"That these girls will find vocal support in the stands from local fans, resident here but formerly of South Korea, will speak volumes for sport's power to unify."
There has been a stark political divide between the two nations dating back to the Korean War in the 1950s.
U.S. president George W. Bush included North Korea among an "Axis of Evil" in a 2002 speech, and the nations remain at loggerheads over North Korea's nuclear developments.
However such considerations will be put aside _ temporarily at least _ on Sunday at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium.
New York-born striker Vicky DiMartino has been America's key player, scoring in all five U.S. matches at the tournament so far.
The United States dropped an early match to Japan, finishing second in their group, then came from behind to beat South Korea and Germany in the knock-out stage.
"This final is going to be a huge game but I'm excited about it," DiMartino said.
"All the Asian teams play a pretty similar style and we've seen from Japan how effective that can be. But we're better prepared for North Korea and we definitely believe we can win this."
The Koreans emerged from their group with one win and two draws, in second place behind tournament favorites Germany but eliminated Denmark (4-0) and England (2-1) on the way to the final.
The North Koreans have been media-shy, reluctantly posing for photographs Friday.
"If we do our best we will have an opportunity to win in the final," player Jon Hong You said.
German football great Franz Beckenbauer, a FIFA ambassador at the tournament, tipped a U.S. victory.
"It's difficult to compare Korea and U.S.A., but the United States might be a little bit ahead," Beckenbauer said.
"They played really excellently in the match against Germany and their physical condition was also very, very good, whereas with the Koreans, you could see towards the end of their match that they became very tired.
"It's a game, it's a final, and anything can happen, but my view having watched the two games is that U.S.A. has a slight edge."


Updated : 2021-10-20 22:30 GMT+08:00