World Cup: How can the Group of Death include North Korea?

No self-respecting World Cup Group of Death should be caught dead with soccer lightweight North Korea in it. Yes, the rogue nation's leader routinely threatens to turn South Korea into a 'sea of fire.' But North Korea poses little threat on the soccer pitch.

Frank Augstein/AP
World Cup: From left, North Korea's Ri Kwang Hyok, Jong Tae Se and Kim Kum Il challenge for the ball during a team training session in Tembisa near Johannesburg, South Africa, June 8. How can the Group of Death include North Korea in it?

The first time I ever heard the phrase the “Group of Death” was in Mexico in 1986.

The group included Germany, Denmark, Uruguay, and Scotland. Denmark had Michael Laudrup and Preben Elkjaer up front and one of the most cultured midfields in the tournament and were laughably ranked fourth seed in the group.

Scotland still produced soccer players back then and had quality players such as Graeme Souness, Gordon Strachan, and Steve Archibald in their ranks.

Uruguay, in addition to their customary battalion of players who wouldn’t have looked out of place in an ultimate fighting ring, could count on Enzo Francescoli up front.

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And West Germany were simply West Germany, the team that would go all the way to the final.

It was a killer draw for all the sides involved and it was well worthy of its fatalistic moniker.

In this World Cup, the "Group of Death" is Group G, which includes soccer juggernaut Brazil and tough teams from Portugal and Ivory Coast.

The problem is that North Korea is the fourth team in the group.

No self-respecting Group of Death would be caught dead with North Korea in it, even if its leader routinely threatens to turn South Korea into a "sea of fire."

It's an insult to the moniker.

North Korea's only been to the World Cup once – nearly half a century ago. They're ranked 105th in the world by FIFA. They shouldn't pose the slightest threat to any of the teams in the group.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no Group of Death in this World Cup.

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