The World Cup Calendar, June 15th. Maicon’s Brazilliant Goal

A gravity defying strike from a defender, a man bursting into tears upon hearing his national anthem and North Korea’s first World Cup goal for almost half a century. Yes, Brazil v North Korea certainly wasn’t short of talking points. Unfortunately it was played out at World Cup 2010, so if you choose to watch the highlights, you’ll need to watch with the sound turned
down. Bloody vuvuzelas…

The national anthems were a personal highlight for me during the South African World Cup, primarily because the incessant drone of those vuvezelas were drowned out by thousands of fans singing their national anthem. Usually the anthems come and go without incident. Music plays, players sing (unless they’re British, of course) and then a few short minutes later, the game kicks off. The occasion obviously got too much for North Korean striker Jong Tae-se. The camera panned along the line of North Koreans as the anthem blared out. Jong Tae-se cried his eyes out, evidently overwhelmed by the occasion. Perhaps he was just taking in the fact
that this was North Korea’s first World Cup appearance since 1966. Whatever the reason for Jong Tae-se’s tears, it certainly created a memorable moment.

This game really want a second half affair. Brazil certainly put the pressure on North Korea. Chance after chance went by, Brazil certainly entertaining the fans at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Inter Milan right back Douglas Maicon played a pass low into the feet of
Robinho on the edge of the box. Robinho performed a neat little drag back with the ball, easing past three North Korea defenders with style. He pulled away from his chasers and passed away to Michel Bastos. Bastos, over 25 yards out, unleashed a rocket of a shot, which may have sneaked in the back of the net if centre back Pak Chol-jin didn’t put his head in the line of fire.

The North Koreans offered nothing going forward, it was obvious that they were sitting back, hoping to play out a tight 0-0 and to hit Brazil on the counter attack if the situation arose. Their plan was going remarkably well. Luis Fabiano was one of the hottest strikers in the world going into the World Cup, and players like Kaka and Robinho were tricky customers to defend against. They fought against the odds and went into half time holding on to a very respectable 0-0.

The North Koreans kept the ball out of the net until minute 55. Douglas Maicon provided one of the World Cup’s most spectacular goals. Felipe Melo sprayed a pass wide across the field to Elano. Elano looked up as if he were going to ping the ball into the box, his feint fooled the North Korean defence and he played a perfectly weighted pass to the overlapping Maicon. Maicon got to the ball halfway between the 6 and 18 yard boxes, only a yard out. He struck the ball first time, with the outside of his boot. Momentum carried Maicon off the pitch and into the advertising board. By the time he had steadied himself, the ball had snuck in beyond
Korea ‘keeper Ri Myong-guk and nestled into the bottom of the net.

It was a sensational strike, one which left viewers stunned as to how it could possibly have snuck in. North Korea had dealt with everything Brazil had thrown at them, but no amount of training could have prepared them for that. Maicon strutted back onto the pitch, tears welling up in the corner of his eyes. He fell to his knees in shock and elation, the raw emotion taking
over him as he comprehended what he had just done.

North Korea had a strict game plan of keeping it tight at the back. Once they had conceded, they looked a little lost, not knowing whether to push for an equaliser or hold on to being only the one goal behind, ensuring that their goal difference didn’t take too drastic a hit. Brazil kept the pressure on, Robinho lofting a pass into the box, Fabiano chesting it down and firing just over the bar.

Finally, with twenty minutes to go, Brazil sealed the three points. Robinho, 30 yards out, fired a low pass to Elano, who beat North Korean left midfielder Ji Yun-nam to the end of the pass. Elano met the pass perfectly and slotted the ball into the back of the net in one swift touch. Brazilian coach Dunga evidently worried over the prospect of a North Korea comeback, and substituted the Galatasaray attacker as soon as he scored, replacing him with defender Dani Alves.

With just a minute of the 90 to play, North Korea scored a wonderfully worked goal. A long ball was played forward from past the halfway line. The North Koreans tearful striker Jong Tae-se headed the ball back outside the box into an open space. Ji Yun-nam picked up the loose box, shimmied past Lucio, wrong footing the Inter Milan centre back, before firing low past Julio Cesar, scoring North Korea’s first World Cup goal since 1966. The goal did nothing to change the outcome of the match, but it was a proud moment both for Ji Yun-nam as well as the nation of North Korea. The games were not streamed live in North Korea, but when the
match was shown in Pyongyang, the North Korean people would have been immensely happy for their team.

Due to the controversial political regime in North Korea, most of the world went into this fixture hoping to see the might of Brazil turn over North Korea. Jong Tae-se’s tears showed the world that he was a real person, from a real nation that was so much more than their
government. It didn’t necessarily make the world want North Korea to win, but it played it’s part in making North Korea a likeable team. This was the tournament highlight for North Korea, who lost their next match7-0 to Portugal, before losing 3-0 to Ivory Coast. Brazil topped their group, beating Ivory Coast and drawing with Portugal. Despite making it to the Quarter Finals, it was a disappointing tournament for a defensive minded Brazil, who looked tame against stronger teams than the North Koreans.

Tomorrows game: June 16th. Sweden v Senegal. 2002.