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North Korea Coach Takes Blame for Rout as Tactics ‘Fell Apart’

Cha Jong-Hyok of North Korea and Fabio Coentrao of Portugal tussle for the ball at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Photographer: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Cha Jong-Hyok of North Korea and Fabio Coentrao of Portugal tussle for the ball at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Photographer: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun accepted responsibility for a 7-0 World Cup drubbing by Portugal that eliminated his team with one group game still to play.

“Tactically speaking it fell apart,” the coach told reporters after today’s Group G match at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium. “It was my fault for not playing the right strategy. That’s why we conceded a lot of goals.”

North Korea, the soccer tournament’s lowest-ranked nation at 105th on governing body FIFA’s list, allowed six goals in the second half to hand Portugal its biggest World Cup victory. Kim’s team lost 2-1 to Brazil on June 15 in its opening game.

The North Koreans have played in one other World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals in 1966, when they lost 5-3 to a Eusebio-led Portugal after blowing a 3-0 lead.

Eusebio, who scored four goals in that match, watched today from the stands as Tiago scored twice to lead the rout. Raul Meireles, Simao, Hugo Almeida, Liedson and Cristiano Ronaldo got the others as Portugal surpassed its previous biggest World Cup win, a 4-0 victory over Poland in 2002.

“We did what we could to try and keep hold of the ball but the Portuguese were simply too good,” North Korea forward Jong Tae Se told reporters. “That’s why we conceded so many goals.”

Asked how North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was likely to view the performance, the coach replied: “Back home I believe they will look at our next game. They will be rooting for us to play well.”

The World Cup comes at a time when tensions on the Korean peninsula are at the highest in decades, following the alleged sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan warship by the North in March.

North Korea faces Ivory Coast in its last group game on June 25. Brazil, which has already secured a place in the round of 16, plays Portugal on the same day.

“We’ve still got a chance to pick up our first three points and that’s what we’ll be trying to do,” Jong added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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