North Korea win on international return as rivals South hit nine

North Korea played Taiwan in football at the Asian Games (Hector RETAMAL)
North Korea played Taiwan in football at the Asian Games (Hector RETAMAL)

North Korea returned to major international competition for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic with a 2-0 win over Taiwan in men's football at the Asian Games on Tuesday.

North Korea closed its already tight borders in early 2020 following the Covid outbreak and skipped the Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic.

The country was then banned from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for failing to take part in Tokyo.

But North Koreans are competing at the Asian Games in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in sports including athletics, gymnastics, basketball, football, boxing and weightlifting.

The Games officially open on Saturday but some events got under way on Tuesday, including men's football, with Kim Kuk Jin and Ri Jo Guk scoring in the first half for North Korea against Taiwan.

North Korea is competing at its first multisport event since the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

Rivals South Korea began their quest for a third men's Asian Games gold in a row with a 9-0 demolition of Kuwait.

Attacking midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong, who plays for Stuttgart in Germany, hit a hat-trick.

There was home delight as China began their Games football campaign with a 5-1 thumping of India.

Asian Games men's football squads are made up of under-23 players but teams are allowed three older players.