Johannesburg -- As teams from around the world arrive in South Africa in preparation for the 2010 World Cup, one team in particular looms as particularly threatening.
Last having fielded a World Cup team in 1966, North Korea's reputation for the unexpected has many teams on edge.
"We keep hearing about a secret weapon over there," one player complained of the North Korean team. "Some say it's just a reference to their forward from Japan, Jong Tae-se," the player continued, "But I'm not so sure."
Although FIFA attempts to separate politics from the games, many players wonder if North Korea will do the same.
"So, what if we beat the snot out of them?" another player wondered. "Do they then bust out pistols in a sort of 'Ah-Ha! How-do-you-like-me-now?!' moment in the name of the Motherland?" he questioned, his concern palpable.
However, at least one official attempted to rationalize away the ubiquitous worries.
"Look, the guy's a whack job, we all know that," a World Cup official stated off the record in reference to Kim Jong Il, the cult-like leader of North Korea. "But we won't be fielding him, now will we? No, absolutely not. We're merely fielding a team of his of which merely represents North Korea, and that's all," the official explained attempting to allay the widespread fears.
Yet, his comments seemed to have had little effect in easing those fears, and instead, have perhaps served to amplify them.
"Oh, is that all?" one coach ripped sarcastically. "That's just great. First we worry of pistols, now missles! I don't know about you, but I feel soooo much better now."