Demanding Kim targets Germany
© AFP

His Korea DPR side have seen off the 2003 finalists and the African champions, making history along the way by escaping the group stage at a FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time. But Kim Kwang-Min is not a happy coach.

So unhappy was he with the performance in that ultimately academic 2-1 defeat by Sweden, in fact, that he banned his players from speaking to the media afterwards - and apologised on their behalf. The gesture spoke volumes for the unremittingly high standards that have come to be demanded in North Korean women's football, with Kim clearly angry at the manner in which his side had disappointed the large, noisy travelling support that had descended on the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.

"The situation for us going into the match was quite advantageous but we didn't look to be well prepared for the challenge," he said. "The players appeared to be lacking vitality and they didn't concentrate on their jobs." Kim's strikers then became the subject of his ire. "Given that the main obligation of an attacker is to score goals, I was not satisfied with the fact that ours did not take many shots," he said.

There was a brief mention of the energy-sapping effects of the previous two matches - a hugely impressive draw with the US followed by a hard-earned win over Nigeria - but that was as close as Kim came to excusing a group of players he considers capable of so much more. This, after all, is a coach who has made no secret of his target here in China, namely to "win the world title". Hence his unforgiving quest for perfection.

Formidable opponents
For his players, however, redemption is in sight. The only catch is that, to reclaim their coach's favour, they must first beat the reigning world champions, a formidable Germany side with an unblemished record against Asian opposition in this tournament.

Nevertheless, the holders' coach, Silvia Neid, knows only too well that it is just a year since the German U-20s - also defending a world title - were taught something of a football lesson in Russia by a Korea DPR side who went on to take the trophy. Kim certainly believes that his players can live up to Neid's description of a team "tactically incredibly well prepared... and physically very strong", and vowed to go on the offensive against Birgit Prinz and Co.

"We will still adopt attack as our strategy," he said. "We'll give it our best shot against Germany and try to beat them. We'll be doing everything we can to get the win. We'll rely on our strengths and fight every step of the way to make sure we go all the way to the final. A win against Germany would fill us with huge pride."