Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 23 News List

North Korea step up campaign with win

AFP , CHENGDU, CHINA

PHOTO: REUTERS

Asia's top team North Korea trounced African champions Nigeria 2-0 on Friday as they stepped up their campaign to clinch their first-ever women's World Cup.

North Korea, ranked five in the world, were firmly in control at the Chengdu Sports Stadium with endless fast and aggressive attacks.

Kim Kyong-hwa got the first goal on 17 minutes with captain Ri Kum-suk putting the game beyond Nigeria's reach with a second four minutes later.

The North Koreans look serious contenders for the trophy, with their win taking them to the top of Group B alongside the US, with one group game left to play.

The Koreans surprised many when they drew 2-2 with the US in their opening clash, and now play Sweden on Tuesday in a bid to secure their first-ever quarter-final spot.

European powerhouse Sweden, runner-up in 2003, were beaten 2-0 by the US earlier onn Friday and need a decisive victory over North Korea if they are to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage.

Only two teams from each group advance in the 16-team tournament.

North Korean coach Kim Kwang-min said he was "satisfied" with Friday's win and his charges were thoroughly prepared for their Scandinavian showdown.

"The next match we play against Sweden and we know that will be a very tough match, [but] we only have to beat Sweden to guarantee our success to move into the second stage of the tournament," he said.

Kim struck in the 17th minute for Korea with a sensational curling corner that looped into the far side of the net past diving goal keeper Precious Dede.

Kim played a crucial role four minutes later, her superb corner kick finding Ri on the far side who headed home past several flat-footed defenders.

Nigerian forward Ifeanyi Chiejine was later booked for kicking a Korean player to wrap up a miserable first half for the Africans.

North Korea continued to pile on the pressure in the second period, with captain Ri rifling home from a cross, only to be judged offside.

Nigeria had a chance in the 62nd minute when a cross found dangerous striker Cynthia Uwak, the African player of the year, in the box, but she pushed her header high and wide.

Nigeria tried desperately to the end, but the frustrated Africans were unable to nail their attacks with a goal.

"The early goal of the corner kick that swung back really demoralized my girls, but I don't think the North Korean crowd should be going home smiling, because the second half we gave them a good fight," coach Ntiero Effiom said.

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