Highlight Reel: Kim Jong-il's barmy army

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Before we get too excited about an explosion of liberty among North Korean fans, a word of warning. There are 300 of them. They were hand-picked by Kim Jong-il himself. He personally approved their visas. They are mostly from Pyongyang. All are native North Koreans, except for the handful of Chinese volunteers donated by a Chinese PR agency. They must wear the same uniform in public, and are under constant surveillance, in case they are tempted to defect to South Korea, also playing in South Africa. Swirling rumours suggest all are acquaintances of the Dear Leader. Those familiar with Team America: World Police will know what he's thinking: "I'm so ronery / So ronery / So ronery and sadry arone / There's no-one / Just me onry / Sitting on my rittle throne".

And Jerry makes three

Our hats off to the Palacios family. "Jerry has been called up – it's very rare," said a Honduran spokesman. Not Jerry's call up, you understand, but his joining Wilson and Jhony to make it a family affair for the minnows. More than rare, in fact: Fifa have confirmed it's the first time three brothers have been in the same World Cup squad. It's less impressive when you consider Honduras' population is roughly the same as Greater London. But it's stirring too, because younger brother Edwin, who played with Jhony at Honduran club Olimpia, was kidnapped in 2007 and found dead last year. Best of luck to his brothers.

Germans get cold feet

One peril of South Africa that doesn't seem to have been hammered home to foreign visitors before they make the trip is that it's downright cold. While World Cup finals are traditionally a summer activity it is winter in the southern hemisphere but few arrivals seem to have got the message. At Oliver Tambo airport in Jo'burg yesterday hordes of Germans landed dressed in sandals and shorts. They face a freezing introduction to Jo'burg, where temperatures have plunged to -3C.

Poncey name, Waldo

An early candidate for the nominative determinism award – bestowed on the player whose name most befits his character and style of play – goes to the Chilean centre-back. Tall, debonair, and prone to the odd needless bit of flair, it's a good job he's not playing in the Premier League, where he'd get ribbed for his surname. Your time will come, Waldo Ponce.

This traitorous Earle

So Robbie Earle has been dropped by ITV for handing out tickets reserved for friends and family to gorgeous Dutch showgirls. Now it's being mooted that he'll be dropped from his ambassadorial role in England's bid for the 2018 World Cup bid. But aren't we missing the bigger irony here? Earle, who was born in that inescapably English place, Newcastle-under-Lyme, got into the England squad but never the team. So he upped sticks and played for Jamaica, on grounds of heritage. Why should this traitor be involved in the 2018 push at all?

Work not very shy

North Korea's spirited performance against Brazil prompted an outbreak of placards from fans, many of them from the world's most secretive state. Other highlights included "Switch off politics for 90 minutes" and "United Korea" banners. But look again at the picture. Notice anything suspicious? (See above).

Comments