DRESDEN // Kwang Min-kim, the North Korea women's football coach, has blamed their 2-0 defeat to the US because his players were still suffering from the effects of being struck by lightning at a pre-tournament training camp.
"Frankly speaking, when we were having training and test matches before we left for this tournament, five of the players were hit by lightning and were in hospital," said Kim, through an interpreter in the post game press conference.
"We had an accident in Pyongyang before we left for this tournament. Some of the players were left behind. Some were in hospital and came later. Until now they were not fully treated for the match."
Kim said the incident occurred on June 8.
Kim added that the players most affected were the goalkeeper, Hong Myong-hui, four defenders and some midfield players — without naming them.
The coach said that doctors had originally decided that they were not in a fit state to play but that they played anyway. Kim also praised his players' performance under these circumstances.
"The fact that they played in this match is abnormal. It is the result of their very powerful and strong will."
The news hit Fifa media officials like a lightning bolt as well.
"It was news to us all," said the Fifa media officer Julie Brown at the US press conference when journalists asked for the Americans' opinions of the North Korean revelation.
The Koreans more than matched the US in the first half before a Lauren Cheney header and a 76th minute strike from Rachel Buehler earned the Americans maximum points in Group C.
In Tuesday's other Group C match, Jessica Landstrom's 57th-minute goal earned Sweden a 1-0 win over Colombia.