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North Korea blame physical shortcomings

23 September 2007 05:45

WUHAN, China (AFP) - North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min has blamed physical disadvantages for his team's failure to beat formidable defending champions Germany at the women's World Cup.

The Asian number ones crashed out at the quarter-final stage here on Saturday 3-0 to a rampaging German side that was both bigger and stronger.

While the North Koreans are athletic, Kim said their lack of physical presence cost them dearly.

"There were clearly significant physical differences between the teams and that made it very difficult for us," he said.

"It's not a question of us being unlucky, I think it's just a reality that we are not as strong as the Germans.

"We need to try and improve the physical aspects of our game."

The same complaint was a trait of the Asian Cup this year, with a number of Asian coaches saying their teams would always struggle against sides like Australia because their players were smaller and less powerful.

Against Germany, the Koreans held fast until a minute before half-time when Kerstin Garefrekes pounced to take a psychologically important lead into the break.

North Korea threw everything they had at Germany in the second half but their finishing was poor, and Renate Lingor and Annike Krahn made them pay for defensive lapses with two more goals.

Kim, who proved a hard task-master during the World Cup, said losing concentration was another reason why his team was defeated.

"After we had the chance to equalise (through Ri Kum-Suk), the players' concentration dropped and we lost control of the game," he said.

Nevertheless, the quarter-finals was the furthest North Korea has ever been at the World Cup and Kim said it boded well for the future.

"This has been a great experience for us. We came through a very tough group playing against the USA, Sweden and Nigeria, and the players will be better for it," he said.

"Now we have to prepare for the Olympics and we will try to improve our finishing skills."

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