Asian Games: North Korea’s footballers make winning start

Asian Games: North Korea’s footballers make winning start
N Korea's So Kyong-Jin (C, #20) celebrates his goal with teammates against China during the 1st round of the men's football match.

INCHEON, South Korea - North Korea's footballers dismantled China 3-0 Monday as they got off to a rousing start at the Incheon Asian Games cheered on by fans waving the Korean Unification Flag.

Goals from Sim Hyon-Jin, So Kyong-Jin and Ri Hyok-Chol gave North Korea's men an easy win as the large delegation from across the militarised border tasted its first competition.

North Korea is flying in more than 250 athletes for the Asian Games, at which the usually reclusive state will hope to excel for the sake of its sports-loving leader, Kim Jong-Un.

With football underway before Friday's opening ceremony, the group game drew fans holding the blue-and-white Unification Flag as well as others with North Korea's colours.

The North Koreans were frequently allowed to run at China and they went ahead in the 10th minute at Incheon Football Stadium when Sim arrowed a shot past goalkeeper Fang Jingqi.

So Hyon-Uk's close-range shot deflected off Fang and on to the crossbar, and Sim ran into the box but fired over as North Korea enjoyed a commanding first half.

So Kyong-Jin doubled their advantage on 57 minutes when, receiving the ball on the edge of the box, he had time and space to pick his spot.

North Korea made it three when Ri was played in with a neat ball through the defence - and with Fang exposed, he gobbled up the chance.

North Korea's visit is sensitive and organisers have removed all national flags from Incheon's streets, fearful they may be a target for anti-Pyongyang protesters.

Later, Japan's all-conquering "Nadeshiko" got off to a slow start in the women's competition when they were held to a 0-0 by three-time winners China.

Coach Norio Sasaki displayed a face like thunder as Japan, whose women are the world, Asian and defending Asiad champions, couldn't find a way past China's "Steel Roses".

Among other results, Vietnam's men swamped Iran 4-1 and Ferdinand Sinaga hit four as Indonesia ran riot in a 7-0 rout of tiny East Timor.

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