Sweet 16 for North Korea's women at Asian Games | Inquirer Sports
Close  

Sweet 16 for North Korea’s women at Asian Games

/ 05:34 PM August 18, 2018

FILE – North Korean players celebrate their victory against Japan after their women’s football final at Munhak Stadium during the Asian Games in Incheon on October 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / BAY ISMOYO

It is a scoreline so audacious even Kim Jong Il would have blushed.

North Korea’s women’s football team thrashed Tajikistan 16-0 at the Asian Games on Friday, a merciless demolition which saw three players score hat-tricks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Unlike their former leader’s legendary first-ever round of golf — in which he claimed to hit 11 holes-in-one — the footballers’ achievement is recorded in the official record books of Asia’s regional Olympics.

North Korea’s women, whose win equalled the tournament record, have long been elite-level international performers.

FEATURED STORIES

Pyongyang has invested in sporting success in recent times, opening an elite football academy for young boys and girls five years ago in the capital, as well as a top-class ski resort.

But the women’s success has far outstripped their male counterparts, including three Asian Games gold medals, three Asian Cups and the last under-17 and under-20 World Cups.

Current leader Kim Jong Un appears to have taken particular interest in women’s football, reportedly visiting the team in training before the last Asian Games to offer “valuable instruction on how to win the gold medal”. They went on to win the tournament.

The following year he hugged returning members of the victorious East Asian Cup campaign at Pyongyang airport, praising their “guerrilla-style” tactics and “indefatigable mental prowess”, according to state news agency KCNA.

But things have not always been so straightforward for the North’s female footballers.

They were banned from the 2015 Women’s World Cup after five players failed drugs tests at the previous edition in 2011.

The team doctor at the time blamed the test results on a “Chinese remedy” made from musk deer glands to treat players who had been struck by lightning.

ADVERTISEMENT

International sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme continue to hamper financing for the country’s footballing ambitions, such as sending stars to top European clubs.

And the team will miss out on next year’s World Cup in France after being narrowly edged out in early qualifying by neighbours South Korea — a country with which the North remains technically at war.

‘Nervous’ loss

Even so, the North’s women continue to leave their male counterparts in their wake.

North Korea’s men’s team coach Ju Soyg Il apologised Friday for his “nervous” players after a heavy defeat to Iran left his side on the brink of an early exit from the same tournament.

The 3-0 loss means the men’s team need a win in their final match to have a chance of avoiding group-stage elimination — just four years after they reached the final.

“We have to find the reasons why we lost the matches. One reason is that many of the players may be nervous,” an ashen-faced Ju told reporters after the match.

“The players were psychologically down.”

Ju also blamed referee decisions for his team’s loss Friday — North Korea had a player sent off and conceded a penalty in a fiery second half — but pledged to “learn lessons” from the setbacks.

It leaves North Korea’s men needing to beat Saudi Arabia and rely on results elsewhere to progress.

Unsurprisingly, the women’s team top their group — albeit on goal difference over China, who could only manage to overcome Hong Kong 7-0.

Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: 2018 Asian games, Football, Indonesia, North Korea, Soccer, Tajikistan
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our sports news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.