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North Koreans not discouraged about World Cup loss

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Soccer players in North Korea have shrugged off their country's 7-0 loss to Portugal at the World Cup.

Players with the local Kigwancha team watched the match live on state television Monday night, but didn't seem discouraged by the lopsided loss. The 7-0 rout was the most one-sided World Cup match since Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

The loss ended the North Koreans' hopes of advancing to the round of 16.

"As a fellow football player I am disappointed and embarrassed at the team having lost so many goals," Kigwancha winger Son Chung Il said Tuesday during training at a local stadium, according to video footage from TV news agency APTN in Pyongyang.

Son, however, said he was not discouraged.

"We'll concentrate our efforts to develop our skills and, if we have another chance to play Portugal in future, we'll try to beat them," he said.

Coach Kim Sang Chol wasn't upset by the loss, either.

"The Korean team is in the World Cup for the first time after 44 years away," he said. "In spite of losing the game, our team has made a good impression to football fans at home."

This is North Korea's first trip to the World Cup since 1966, when it stunned Italy 1-0 to become the first Asian nation to reach the quarterfinals. North Korea then took a 3-0 lead on Portugal before the Portuguese rallied for a 5-3 victory.

North Korean state television aired live coverage of Monday's entire match during prime time, a first for a North Korean football game taking place abroad.

North Korea will play its final World Cup game Friday against the Ivory Coast.