North Korea soccer coach Sin Yong Nam defended his players after several clashed with match officials on the pitch after their 2-1 defeat to Japan in the Asian Games quarter-finals in Hangzhou.
North Korea captain Jang Kuk Chol and team mate Kim Kyong Sok remonstrated heatedly with referee Rustam Lutfullin after the final whistle, pursuing the Uzbek in the middle of the pitch as he tried to back away.
With the confrontation drawing in the assistant referees and several security staff, the North Korean coach also ran to his players to try to defuse the situation.
The North Korean players were earlier furious when Lutfullin awarded a penalty to Japan after goalkeeper Kang Juh Yok charged out and clipped the feet of Jun Nishikawa with an outstretched arm.
Waving his arms and shaking his head, an angry Kang argued with the referee before Yuta Matsumura slotted home from the spot in the 80th minute to see Japan through at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium.
“I admit that our players were a little bit over-excited in the match but it is football,” Sin said at the post-match press conference.
“But there are confrontations in football matches… I think our behaviour is acceptable.”
Japan coach Go Oiwa declined to comment on the incident when asked.
“This match was as we expected,” he said through a translator.
“There are some things (we are) not happy about in the match but basically we can accept that.”
Kotaro Uchino scored the first goal for Japan with a helpful deflection off a North Korea player in the 50th minute before Kim Kuk Bom levelled the match with a stunning, long-range strike.
Japan moved into a semi-final with Hong Kong who pulled off a 1-0 upset of former winners Iran.
Defending champions South Korea cruised into the last four with a comfortable 2-0 victory over hosts China. They will face Uzbekistan following the Central Asians’ 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia earlier in the day.