By Mark Concannon Special to Published Jun 16, 2010 at 6:00 AM

"Dissed Duo Disdains Dire Diagnoses!"

That's the headline for today's action in South Africa as New Zealand and North Korea proved they are respectable sides and belong among the final 32.

The Kiwis were roundly criticized for having a walkover path to qualification. One respected publication said NZ had no business being in the tournament and was "better off sticking to rugby." But the squad from down under, ranked 78th in the world (just below Togo and Senegal), scored a goal in the final minute of extra time to earn a 1-1 draw with 34th ranked Slovakia for its first ever World Cup point.

North Korea, the lowest rated team in the field (No. 105) played the baddest cats on the block, top-ranked Brazil. How good is Brazil? Consider the pedigree of the pool of players who are among the nation's finest: Ronaldinho, the star of the Nike commercial, who plays for AC Milan, Lucas, a veteran of 113 appearances for Liverpool, Anderson, whose exploits have thrilled fans of Manchester United and Alex, a veteran defender at Chelsea. Those four players didn't make the final World Cup squad.

North Korea?

"These are mystery men. We hope to shed some light on them for you in the next 90 minutes," said announcer Martin Tyler who was immediately challenged by the presence of two DPRK players both named Nam Choi Pak. "Luckily for us, only one of them is starting," Tyler said.

Happily for Tyler, the other Nam Choi Pak never left the substitutes' bench. The Koreans were clearly moved by their first World Cup appearance in 44 years. Tears streamed down the faces of the first team players during the national anthem.

These obscure underdogs played disciplined football and held Brazil scoreless in the first half. The South Americans broke through twice in the second half as Maicon and Elano (two of the 15 players on the roster listed by just one name) scored in the 55th and 71st minutes.

But late in the match Ji Yun Nam got loose in the penalty area and put North Korea on the scoreboard. "Ji! Ji whiz!" intoned an astonished Tyler. Brazil then had to hang on with every bit of its star power to salvage a 2-1 victory.

Who would have thought on a day that featured the matchup of Vanity Fair cover boys Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba (whose Portugal and Ivory Coast sides played to a 0-0 draw), that New Zealand and North Korea would steal the show?

Mark Concannon Special to
Mark Concannon moved to Milwaukee in 1987 when he started at WITI TV as weekend sports anchor. He began hosting Wakeup News, signing the new program on the air in 1990. He anchored Wakeup until the spring of 2010. In his 23 years at the station, Mark won four Emmy Awards and multiple local, state and regional honors.

Before arriving in Wisconsin, Mark was a TV sports director at stations in Greensboro, the Quad Cities and Fort Smith, Arkansas. He got his first job at the ABC affiliate in Syracuse during his junior year at Syracuse University where he majored in TV and Radio at the Newhouse School.

Mark is an avid fan of all sports. He covered the Packers at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans and has also reported on the Final Four, the Daytona 500, the Rose Bowl, the NLCS and the PGA and U.S. Open golf championships. He covered the GMO for 20 years. Mark played soccer in high school and is a passionate supporter of "The Beautiful Game." One of his greatest experiences was attending a UEFA Champions League game hosted by Real Madrid at Bernabeu Stadium.

Mark was born in Philadelphia but has happily made the transition from cheese steaks to cheese heads and is thrilled to now call Wisconsin home. He is currently president of Concannon Communications LLC and working on projects involving, writing, producing, voice-overs and public relations.