North Koreans Blame World Cup Loss to U.S. on Lightning Strike

By Sara Dover
|  Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011  |  Updated 7:34 AM PDT
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Lauren Cheney (L) and Carli Lloyd (R) of USA battle for the ball with Yun Mi Jo of Korea DPR.

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The U.S. women's soccer team earned an exciting 2-0 victory against the North Koreans at the Women's World Cup on Tuesday, but wait until you hear the losing team's excuse.

North Korean Coach Kim Kwang Min said his team played poorly in the Germany match because some of the members were struck by lightning in Pyongyang on June 8, sending "more than five" of them to the hospital.

"Some stayed in the hospital and then came to Germany later than the rest of us," Kim told the BBC. "The goalkeeper and the four defenders were most affected, and some midfielders as well. The physicians said the players were not capable of participating in the tournament.

"But World Cup football is the most important and significant event for a footballer, so they don't want to think about anything but football. The fact that they played could be called abnormal, the result of a very strong will."

True or False? It's certainly suspicious that there was no mention of the rare and gravely serious incident until after the match. But given that North Korea is shrouded in secrecy--for one, training sessions are are strictly guarded from the public, according to the AFP--people will just have to make their own judgements.

Nevertheless, the Americans proved themselves in the second half of the game after a sluggish beginning, and jumped to first place in their group with three points.

The U.S. will face Colombia and Sweden next. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. has lost in the semifinals in the past two World Cups and could face the heavily-favored Germans if they reach that level.
 

Selected Reading: BBC, Yahoo! Sports, The Wall Street Journal

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