GUANGZHOU, China (AFP) - A confident North Korea was celebrating Monday after a "major" victory over arch-rivals South Korea at the Asian Games.
Ri Kwang-Chon got the decisive goal in the Group C game, heading home nine minutes before half-time, with Hong Myung-Bo's men unable to find a reply despite playing against 10 men for the final 25 minutes.
North Korean coach Jo Tong-Sop said his under-23 team, which includes a handful of players who featured at the World Cup in South Africa, was brimming with confidence and looking to go all the way here.
"Even though we had a player sent off, we were very confident and fought until the end," said Jo of the reclusive team.
"South Korea put great pressure on us, particularly in defence, but we still played very hard and achieved our goal.
"It was a major victory for us because we made a big study of Korea and their tactics."
Jo said he felt his team was capable of winning the gold medal, but they were also in Guangzhou to learn.
"Our objectives are simple—to enhance our experience of international matches. In addition, if we can play well we will try to qualify for the knockout rounds and win those games."
South Korean coach Hong Myung-Bo, who is looking to steer his team to their first Asian Games title in 24 years, was disappointed but not disheartened.
"Obviously it is very disappointing and unfortunate for us," he said.
"But we still have two more games to play and I believe that when we get our injured players back, we can win the next two games. I am confident we can still reach the final."
South Korea next face Jordan on Wednesday, while North Korea take on the Palestinian territories.