North Korea blame lightning for loss
North Korea's coach came up with a novel excuse as to why his side lost their opening match of the women's World Cup to the USA in Dresden, Germany.
The USA won the match 2-0 thanks to goals from Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler but the Koreans' coach Kim Kwang Min said they lost because several of his players were struck by lightning almost a month ago.
"When we stayed in Pyongyang during training there was an unexpected accident so our team was not capable of playing," explained the coach.
"Our players were hit by lightning during a training match. More than five were hospitalised. The match was on 8 June.
"The goalkeeper and the four defenders were most affected (by the lightning).
"The physicians said the players were not capable of participating in the tournament. … The fact that they played could be called abnormal, the result of very strong will."
One could hardly blame coach Kim for looking for an excuse for his team's defeat after what reportedly happened to the men's North Korean team after their disappointing performance at last summer's World Cup in South Africa.
Back then, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media claimed the team's coach and players were forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture in front of 400 government officials, students and journalists.
Reports said the players were subjected to six hours of criticism for their performance at the World Cup, their first appearance since 1966.
North Korea is a highly-secretive autocracy, run by dictator Kim Jong-il, which has fractious relations with most of the Western world and is on a constant state of near-conflict with neighbours South Korea.