[stolen/reprinted without permission from here.]
The derby clash between archrivals South Korea and North Korea on Wednesday will overshadow a round of World Cup qualifying matches that could result in Australia securing the first of Asia's four automatic places at South Africa 2010.
Any meeting between the Koreas, which technically remain at war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, is eagerly awaited. This time, the stakes are high, on and off the field. After just two meetings in 15 years, the teams have met four times in the past 14 months. All four have ended in draws but Wednesday's match will be played amid an atmosphere of real tension - and not just because the World Cup is so close.The entire region is waiting for a missile launch by Pyongyang. Japan has promised to shoot down anything entering its airspace.
North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit between April 4 and 8. The U.S., South Korea and Japan suspect the communist regime is using the launch to test long-range missile technology, heightening the tension. Earlier this month, North Korea, in response to joint US-Korean military maneuvers, informed the south that it could not guarantee the safety of any airliner passing through its airspace.
Little separates the two in Group B of Asian World Cup qualifying. North Korea, aiming for a first World Cup appearance since its run to the quarterfinals in 1966, leads the group with 10 points after five of its eight matches. South Korea, the 2002 World Cup semifinalist bidding for a seventh consecutive visit to football's showpiece event, has eight points from four matches. Saudi Arabia's 2-1 win at Tehran on Saturday lifted the Saudis into third on seven points, one ahead of Iran. United Arab Emirates has just one point.
Many of South Korea's overseas stars were in action last weekend and warmed up by defeating Iraq 2-1 in a friendly. On the same day, North Korea defeated UAE 2-0. It was another impressive performance by the North, which belied its reputation as a defensive-minded team with some clinical attacking play that was noticed south of the 38th Parallel.
Guess where Ant, Paul and I will be tonight???? Yup, watching the South kick the crap outta the North!! WOO HOO!! GO REDS!!!!!!!