Preamble: What if Kim Jong-il has spent the last few decades in his fiendish lair devising not nuclear weapons, invisible pulse rifles and Thunderbird suits, but a fleet of crack footballers who only now are about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world? Yes, that would liven this World Cup up. Then again, it would take as little as two teams not playing 4-5-1 against each other to liven this World Cup up. Say, maybe we'll get that here tonight – Brazil, at least, certainly won't hold back, not unless Dunga decides to taunt all those back home who've been berating his side for a perceived lack flair. But the below line-up doesn't suggest he's feeling contrary, and their left-hand side, with Bastos and Robinho, looks especially enterprising.
Basically, tonight we're either going to see a goalfest, or one of the great shocks in football history. Or, of course, yet another uninspired tactical battle. Finding out which could be half the pleasure. So do please stay tuned.
Teams:Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos, Felipe Melo, Silva, Elano, Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano. Subs: Gomes, Doni, Dani Alves, Luisao, Thiago Silva, Gilberto, Josue, Ramires, Julio Baptista, Kleberson, Nilmar, Grafite.
Korea DPR: Myong-Guk Ri, Cha, Chol-Jin Pak, Nam-Chol Pak, Kwang-Chon Ri, Mun, Jun-Il Ri, Ji, Hong, Ahn, Jong. Subs: Myong-Gil Kim, Myong-Won Kim, Kum-il Kim, An, Choe, Nam-Chol Pak, Yong-Jun Kim, Nam, Chol-Myong Ri, Kwang-Hyok Ri, Kyong-Il Kim, Sung Hyok Pak.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
A propos of nothing: If you were supreme leader of a country, what would you do?
7:16pm: "Weren't England and my lot both 4-4-2? That didn't exactly make for a goal explosion," wibbles Nathan Rockwell. England did not have two up front against the US. Wayne Roony drifted like the Littlest Hobo, and Heskey plodded like the biggest donkey. So England had no strikeforce. Oh, hold on, Nathan wants to say something else. "Yes, I'm American and we do like to think in terms of explosions. It's genetic. Some other country sent all their overly uptight, repressed hyper-religious loons to North America to get rid of them, and this is the result. At least we've cut back on witch burnings."
7:18pm: "In terms of supreme leaders," begins Gadi Abraham. "Isn't the trend to buy a middling team in the Premier league and flash some cash?"
7:20pm: "Kim Jong-il's athletic exploits are legendary, as he routinely shoots multiple holes-in-one in every round of golf that he plays," reports Chris Nemeh. "Why would he need to devise a fleet of players when he could surely score 5 goals against Brazil on his own? I imagine him as an attacking winger with blinding speed and a thunderous right foot. Maicon would be no match."
7:22pm: "What would I do if I was Supreme Leader?" wonders James Mair in keeping with tonight's theme. "Execute anybody with the temerity to impose fascist regimes such as websense and firewalls on the World Cup watching, work shy members of the proletariat such as myself. I'm forced to watch the game on a Canadian Broadcast feed from the birds-eye camera. it's like watching a game of sensible soccer, but in slightly lower resolution than a Commodore Amiga."
7:24pm: "If I were leader I'd make everyone wear huge clown shoes," announces Phil Sawyer. "I'd feel a lot more able to challenge my bosses if they were wearing huge clown shoes. Clown shoes are a great leveler. I'd also insist that everywhere I went I was accompanied by silent slapstick movie style honky-tonk piano music complete with that swooping whistle sound effect when I bend over to tie my shoelaces and narrowly avoid being hit by a plank." With a manifesto like that, you'd sure get my vote. Oh wait, I wouldn't have a vote.
7:26pm: The teams waddle into the arena, to the familiar din of vuvuzelas. "If I were leader, I would breed sharks with lasers for eyes that play soccer," brays Bruce Cooper. "Even Vinnie Jones would quake in fear."
National anthem report: The Brazilian ditty skips along at pleasing pace, and all the players sing along. Now for the North Korean one and my, is it bombastic. One of the players is in tears - perhaps because of the immensity of the event or perhaps because large sections of the crowd are blowing vuvuzelas and voicing disrespect or perhaps for another reason entirely - for the first time in this tournament so far as I know.
1 min: As we kick-off, Chris Coleman on ITV complains about how cold it is. "If I were Supreme Leader, I would resign in favour of Diana Ross," quips Justin Horton.
2 min: Early excitement as Robinho skitters down the wing and into the box, leaving two players flailing in his wake. He offloads to Kaka, who attempts to round the last defender but is dispossessed.
4 min: Some said the People's Team would play with five at the back, but they appear to have deployed an ambitious 4-3-3 formation and on thew few occassions that they've had the ball so far they have shown a commendable willingness to attack. "If I was Dear Leader (which in many ways I already am - apart from the important ones) I would invade South Korea, unify it, then invade Scotland, Wales, England and N. Ireland and unify them, and then have Korea play Great Britain," warns Andy Chan. "Only I would have done it a few years ago, when England was better."
6 min: Melo blasts over from outside the box. Moments later Robinho does likewise. As the pressure mounts, it becoems apparent that the Koreans are, in fact, using a five-man defence, but the wing-backs are quick to raid forward given half an opportunity, which is aboaut all they've had so far.
8 min: Chol Jin heads a Kaka cross to safety. Relative safety, that is. It didn't take long for Brazil to win it back and begin rumbling forward again.
9 min: Bastos is endowed with a ferocious left foot ... but be didn't show it a moment ago, when he shanked the ball miles wide from 25 yards. "If I were supreme leader, I'd simply keep those awkward foreigner teams out of my World Championships," bugles Justin Kavanagh. "Just like the Americans do."
11min: Jong, the man they call the People's Wayne Rooney, slaloms between two Brazilians and rasps a fine low shot into Julio Cesar's mid-riff. Promising!
13 min: Brazil resume zipping the ball around but North Korea diligent and dynamic and infiltrating their defence is proving difficult. Virtually all of Brazil's effort so far have been from distance, though Elano found the target with a snap-shot from 12 yards just now. No problem for the keeper. "If I were Supreme Leader, I'd make everyone worship people called Sue, " squeals Sue Parkins. "And this song would be the national anthem."
15 min: Giddiness permeates the crowd as the North Koreans, who are gaining in confidence, mount a proper raid. They pinged some slick passes aroound the Brazilian half before Lucio charged down a long-range shot. Then left wing-back Jong Hyok dazzled forward to join in another attack, and cracked a decent effort a couple of yards over the bar. Dunga is not a happy camper on the sideline.
17 min: Maicon races down his flank but, as everyone knows, he's no Jong Hyok, so his harmless shot flies way wide. "If you're a Supreme Leader I definitely think large and pointless monuments are the way to go," decrees Chris Kempshall. "Nobody builds Great Walls or Giant Pyramids anymore. If a huge and expensive accolade to yourself isn't visible from orbit, then you're not a REAL dictator. With that in mind I'm thinking of some sort of gigantic stone tower with a twisty slide off the side of it." Might most of the stadiums in this World Cup be such follys - huge and expensive tributes to the Supreme Leader, Sepp Blatter.
20 min: Robinho picks up the ball in his box with his back to goal, pivots quickly and drills a low shot at the keeper, who holds it comfortably.
22 min: Brazil are frustrated for sure, but so far they've not lost their patience and are continuing to probe in their usual deliberate style, then suddenly accelerating at the opportune moment. But the well-organised Korean defence has read their intentions on every occassion so far. They're an impressive unit. Meanwhile, this dispatch from Paul Ilcheko. "A friend at the game reports (via Facebook) that 'the entire North Korea contingent is in one section. All 45 of them (yes, I can count them from where I am sitting). How sad." Sad is right. What sort of prune goes to Brazil's first match at the World Cup and spends their time updating their facebook page?
25 min: Hong lauches a counter attack, Jong skips past Bastos with marvellous style but then over-hits his cross. The crowd are warming to these game Koreans ...
27 min: Jong is down receiving treatment to an ugly gash on his thigh. Not sure how he suffered that since there have been no noticeably brutal tackles so far. "Paul, I know you are a big Tintin fan," reveals Mathew Thomas, whom I do not know, which makes him knowing that I like Tintin quite spooky. Are you the Supreme Leader of a country with advanced intelligence services, Mathew? "What I want to say is that Dunga is completely rocking the Captain Haddock look in his Turtleneck and Brass-buttoned Jacket. Oh, and if I were The Supreme Leader of a Country, I'd impose a special tax on my people in order to buy Inter Milan. Not just to sit around in the VIP box though; I'd bring myself on whenever we're sure to win and if anyone throws a tackle on me, I'd put Lucio on them. That boy is the nouveau Vinnie Jones."
29 min: Maicon squnaders a corner.
30 min: No sooner is Jong back on his feet than he resumes torturing Lucio, who busts a gut to keep up with him on a sprint down the left wing and ultimately concedes a corner.
31 min: Korea takes a corner short, then work the ball over to Kwang Chon, loitering outside the area. He rifles a low shot a few yards wide, bringing giddy ooooooohs from the crowd, who, like the Middlesbrough public 44 years ago, seem enthralled by the surprising North Koreans.
33min: Glorious showboating from Robinho elicits more oooooohhhs from the crowd. And there's end-product too, as he knocks the ball to Bastos, who booms one at goal from 25 yards. It takes a nick off a defender and deflects over. "Chris Kempshall might want to look into the works of Turkmenistan's leader from 1990-2006, Saparmurat Niyazov aka Turkmenbashi," trumpets Arthur Jones. "He built a golden statue of himself that turned with the sun."
35 min: Superb defending by Kwang Chon, who jumps between Luis Fabiano and Robinho to bash the ball clear.
37 min: Brazil have penned Korea back for the last couple of minutes but the defending continues to be valiant and there is simply no way through. "If I were Kim Jong-il I would unify the People's Republic of Korea with the old Peoples Republic of East Germany and make everyone wear Supreme Liederhosen," chortles Bem Bamford.
39 min: Kaka waltzes down the left and into the box but his low cross is heroically turned away at the near post by Jun Il. "This is enthralling," acknowledges Callum Hamilton. "The first match in which I'm afraid to go and buy rizla. By my reckoning, that means the World Cup has arrived. Although not enough to stop my other filthy habit of emailing guardian.co.uk journalists." Everyone has to get their highs somehow.
41 min: Jong Kyok heads a corner away at the near post. Brazil's deliveries from set-pieces have been impoverished so far. "If I were the Dear Leader I would do many Important things," vows Svetoslav Nenov. "First of all, I would launch a 200-billion-pound programme that will teach horses how to write sonnets. After that is accomplished I will change all history books to say that I have invented the frisbee and that this is the most important invention ever. Third, I would relocate the Eiffel tower to the moon, build a dome around it and fill the remaining space with squirrels. Fourth, I would stage a huge frisbee Tournament that will take place in the dome on the moon. The rules will be as follows: you have to throw the frisbee in such a way that it lands on top of the eiffel tower without colliding with a squirrel along the way. Finally, I would ban frisbees just before the tournament starts. Why? Because I could!"
43 min: Jong is cut down in midfield as he attempted to instigate another Korean counter-attack. "I was in favour of Chris Kempshall's manifesto until Arthur Jones came along," rues Phil Sawyer. "What if the idea catches on? Imagine a giant rotating David Cameron on top of the House of Commons ..."
45 min: Brazil, with four players awaiting a pass in the box, can't find space for a cross despite Maicon's foraging. That reflects how well the disciplined, diligent and dynamic Koreans have defended.
Half-time: A no-goal sensation! It's a victory for Korea so far. They thoroughly deserve to be level. It's not that Brazil have been terrible, it's that the underdogs have risen to the challenge superbly. The second half promises to be intriguing. Portugal and Ivory Coast won't be happy watching this ... "Why is anyone surprised at the shape and discipline in the North Korea side?" blathers Sean Cassidy. "Have they not seen a May Day parade?"
"Imagine how the English press would react if this was us failing to beat the Koreans?" proposes Stuart Gardiner. "Of course, when Italy / Brazil / France / Portugal / Ivory Coast don't look great in their first game, it's because they're building up slowly and no team wins the Cup by playing well in their first game. When England do the same thing, it's because they're hopeless and should be written off." Perhaps that is because those countries seek solacae from history, whereas England, as we know, have only once reached the semi-final outside their own country, and were lucky to do so.
"Never mind the May Day parade, here's a link to some North Korean cheerleaders," offers Andrew Goudie.
"The FA invest millions in coaching and development, and yet players from an impoverished totalitarian regime seem to be able to control and keep the ball better than England," harrumphs Mark Lipczynski. "And they're not a bunch of drama queens either. No moaning, diving or foul play...perhaps the FA should send a delegation to Pyongyang to see how its done?" I'm all for sending the FA to Pyongyang.
A lucky person writes. "I'm off to see Portugal v Korea DPR next week in Cape Town," brags Sukaina. "This game is whetting my appetite, especially after Portugal's less than impressive performance earlier. Go Korea!"
46 min: Brazil, no doubt after an almighty bollocking from Dunga, get the second half under way. No changes in personnel to either side.
47 min: Maicon clips a fine ball over the top for Lucio, who misjudged the bounce, allowing Kwang Chon to clear. That a real let-off for the underdogs. "Just to let him know that I live in Brazil and he can rest assured the Brazilian press is going to slaughter this performance, even if they end up winning 3-0 or 4-0," yells Stephen Greene. "The knives have been out for Dunga for a while and this is just the excuse they need."
49 min: Anonther Robinho shot is blocked. Then the ball squirts out to Kaka at the edge of the area. Chol Jin barges into him to concedde a freekick in the last place you want to concede a freekick against Brazil ...
51 min: Bastos smashes the freekick around the wall and just wide. yet again the Jabulani ball didn't curl, but at least he managed to keep it down.
53 min: Myong Guk dives full-length to punch a corner clear. Brazil rapidly regain possession and Robinho, who's been the most inventive of Brazil's attackers, wallops wide from 20 yards, in not particularly inventive fashion, it msut be said. "After a week of relentless mockery, I am embarrassed to find that The People's Wayne Rooney is so far having a better World Cup debut than England's Wayne Rooney," notes Thiago Carvahlo. "If The People's Rob Green can emulate him, Brazil may be in for a very upsetting draw."
55 min: Juan nuts a Korea corner clear, pooping the party that the excited crowd had been preparing ...
GOAL! Brazil 1-0 North Korea (Maicon 55)It's Ronadlinho 2002 all over again? Did Maicon mean that? If he did, it was wonderful skill - he overlapped in characteristic style and, from a preposteropusly acute angle and with the keeper anticipating a cross, he swirled it into the net at the near post, one of the most improbable, superbly executed curlers since Nelhinho in 1978. If he meant it.
57 min: The Koreans embarked on a few breaks in the first half but in this period they've mustered nothing, so you can't be optimistic about their chances of plundering an equaliser. "The Russian commentators here are swearing up and down that that was an attempted cross, as reliable indicator as any that Maicon only had eyes for the goal," reports Nicholas Sweeting.
59 min: Robinho stings the keeper's hands with a powerful shot from 20 yards. Myong Guk spills it, but Jong Hyok hooks it clear. "Here is said Nelhinho goal," blurts helpful Carl Finch.
61 min: Elano lofts a freekick over to the position on the left from where Maicon scored his outrageous goal, but Juan is no Maicon and slices into the stand. "The tractor beam Kim cunningly concealed in the stand was clearly polarised in reverse by mistake, dragging Maicon's shot into the goal rather than away to safety," rat-a-tat-tats James Lanman.
63 min: After more incisive work by Robinho, Luis Fabiano misdirects Jun Il with a stealthy touch ... and then hammers the ball high and wide from 10 yards.
65 min: Korea dinking the all around midfield, but no sign of a breakthrough. "Maicon meant it," thunders Leonardo Cruz. "He has already done that a couple of times for Inter." Leonardo sounds like he knows what he's talking about, so believe him, readers.
67 min: Chris Coleman on ITV reckons the goal was a "mis-kick" but the Maicon Meant It campaign is gathering momentum. "Maicon meant it, just look at his foot in the slow-mo," suggests Urs Eberhardt. "Historic precedent: Same crazy goal as Lothar Emmerich for GER in WC 1966 (Birmingham) against Spain." Anyone want to YouTube that for me? I'm kinda busy.
70 min: Felipe Melo lets fly from 25 yards. Felipe Melo shouldn't have bothered.
GOAL! Brazil 2-0 North Korea (Elano 71) Robinho dissects the defence with an impeccable pass and Elano canters on to it and slot it into the corner of the net from 10 yards. Pure Manchester City magic right there.
72 min: Elano's reward for scoring is to be substituted for Dani Alves.
74 min: Kaka floats one to the back post, but too far for Luis Fabiano. I told you Leonardo Cruz knows what he's talking about, and to prove it he's sent this link to a goal by Maicon two years ago that is very similar to tonight's one, though the angle back then was slightly more benign.
76 min: There are more goals here for Brazil, Korean resistance wilting by the minute. Lucio knows it, and is careering forward with increasing regularity. "Coleman says the fact that Maicon looked up to see who was in the box is proof that he didn't mean it, but surely he'd be a poorer player if he didn't at least look?" reasons Ben jackson. "Or he could be Jermaine Defoe."
78 min: Brazil substitution: Kaka off, Nilmar on.
80 min: Nilmar has a pop from 25 yards. Held at the second attempt by the keeper. "Doesn't Dunga look like on of the Clancy Brothers?" croons Simon Rouse.
81 min: Melo has a pop from 25 yards. Held at the first attempt by the keeper.
83 min: Brazil besiege the Korean box. Lucio is determined to score and tries to barge his way past two defenders and fire off a shot, but numbers count in the end. Meanwhile, there are still Maicon Doubters in our midst. "Do you want me to send you a link of Maicon crossing the ball? Cause he's also done that in the past," bawls Piers Atkinson. "Today he mishit it and it went in. Shaun Wright Phillips can do that."
84 min: Brazil substitution: Felipe Melo off, Ramires on.
85 min: Nilmar kills the ball on his chest and then volleys at goal from the penalty spot. Myong Guk saves well. In other news, I remain convinced that Maicon's goal was planned. Boris Starling shares this view. "It's obviously in the national DNA for Brazilian full-backs," quoth Boris. "Check out Josimar in 1986 against Poland."
87 min: Julio Cesar punches a Korean corner clear, just about.
GOAL! Brazil 2-1 North Korea (Yun Nam 89) Jubilation in the crowd and on the pitch as the underdogs get just reward for their tireless work. And it was a goal of impressive daintiness, to boot. Jong nodded a raking diagonal ball expertly down to Yun Nam, who eliminates Lucio, no less, with two deft touches and then slams it over the advancing keeper and into the net!
90 min: Excellent tackle on the edge of the box to deprive Dani Alves of a shooting opportunity and lay the platform for another Korean attack. But it comes to nothing this time.
Full-time: A proper World Cup match at last! North Korea savour the applause of a crowd who clearly appreciated their diligence and defiance. Brazil beat them with two beautiful goals, but were not so superior that they deserved to win by more than one, so the late strike from Yun Nam was as just as it was elegant. Korean defenders Kwang Chon and Nam Chol were magnificent, as was their gallant forward Jong. For Brazil, Robinho was brilliant, prompting this from Robert Smithson. "I like how in order to replicate his Brazil form for Manchester City, either Manchester needs a beach or Robinho has to get some more 'bottle', as I've heard so many pub bores and moron pundits say. Is it really that inconceivable that maybe, just maybe, playing a system that suits him means Robinho plays better?" And on that note, I thank you for your attention, and for all of your emails. Sorry I couldn't publish the lot of 'em. Please don't hold it against guardian.co.uk. What I'm saying is: come back for more fun tomorrow. Bye.
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