Korea DPR handed The Gambia its worst defeat ever in football on the opening day of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, thrashing the Girl Scorpions 11-0 in their Group B encounter in Baku.
After several months of uncertainty over their participation at the third edition of the global showpiece, mainly due to financial constraints, Buba Jallow's wards got what they deserved for their failure to undertake any meaningful preparation despite an impressive qualifying campaign.
The players were each handed US$1000 ahead of a two-week training camp in Morocco, the highest ever allowance paid to any Gambian football team. That particular largesse renewed hopes that the side can put up a decent performance in the 'Land on Fire', but it proved to be too little too late, at least based on a horrible performance in the first game.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports has also sent a delegation of fans and journalists to Azerbaijan to cheer up the team, but the delegation arrived late to witness the first game, a reminiscent of what happened with the fans that travelled to the Peru 2005 men's U-17 World Cup.
The North Koreans, winners of the Female U17 Football World Cup four years ago, were far too strong for their African opponents, who are appearing at a major FIFA competition for the very first time, and every goal scored during the match was like a stab in the heart for every Gambian.
Ri Un Sim and Ri Kyong Hyang both bagged trebles as one of the genuine contenders for the title sent a message to group rivals France and USA against admittedly shell-shocked opponents. From the first whistle the Asian side were dominant and although it took them almost 20 minutes to register, three goals in as many minutes put the result beyond doubt.
Choe Yun Gyong capitalised on a rebound to break the deadlock on 18 minutes, and further goals from Ri Un Sim and Ri Kyong Hyang followed a minute apart as the Gambian girls struggled to regain their composure. Ri Un Sim completed a hat-trick before half-time, first converting a spot-kick and then a smart finish from the edge of the area, before Kim Phyong Hwa made it half-a-dozen in the opening period for Korea DPR. Korea DPR took their foot off the gas to a degree in the second half but wasteful passing from Gambia, allied to some clinical counter-attacking play, saw them extend their advantage by another five goals.
Ri Kyong Hyang secured a treble of her own after scoring in the 63rd and 77th minutes, sandwiching an effort by Kim So Hyang. Ri Hyang Sim rounded off the result with two late individual efforts as Korea DPR proved their credentials immediately. They will now face France on Tuesday while Gambia will attempt to resurrect their campaign against USA on the same day, with both games taking place in Baku.