North Korea beats Nigeria 1-0 in opener

Aug. 06, 2008, 3:38 p.m. (ET)

SHENYANG, China (AP) North Korea beat Nigeria 1-0 in women's soccer Wednesday, getting a 27-minute goal from Kim Kyong Hwa on the opening day of Olympic competition.

The victory puts North Korea atop Group F after title contenders Germany and Brazil drew 0-0 in the first match of the day at Shenyang Olympic Stadium. The North Koreans have three points, while Germany and Brazil have one each and Nigeria none.

Olympic soccer began two days before Friday's opening ceremony in Beijing to accommodate its long schedule.

Kim scored with a powerful shot from near the penalty spot after the Nigerian defense failed to clear a cross inside the area.

The North Koreans had a chance to add to the lead with a penalty kick in the 43rd, but captain Ri Kum Suk missed wide. She had been pulled down inside the area by a Nigerian defender.

"The tournament just started, and this was a good result," North Korea coach Kim Kwang Min said. "Now we need to have a good preparation to play against Brazil and Germany."

The North Koreans controlled play and created most of the scoring opportunities at the 60,000-seat stadium, which was not packed.

Ri Kum Suk missed with headers in the 26th and 59th minutes, and Ri Un Suk also came close with a header that was saved by Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede in the 51st.

The Nigerians attacked sporadically and posed no significant threat. One of the team's best chances came in the 71st when Cynthia Uwak's shot from inside the area was blocked by a defender. The Nigerians complained of a hand ball.

"Our game plan was to match them speed for speed and skill for skill," Nigerian coach Joseph Ladipo said. "But unfortunately that didn't happen. Our game plan didn't work today."

North Korea reached the quarterfinals of last year's World Cup and qualified for the Olympics unbeaten in six matches, scoring a record 51 goals and not allowing any.

Nigeria, Africa's top-ranked team, has participated in the last two Olympics and was eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals in Athens four years ago. It failed to advance from the group stage of last year's World Cup in China.

On Saturday, Nigeria plays Germany and North Korea faces Brazil.