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It was down to administration not defection say DPRK...

North Korea have told Goal.com that none of their players have gone AWOL in South Africa and the absence of four stars from an official FIFA teamsheet was the result of a clerical error.

Questions were raised earlier this week as the teamsheet for the team’s opening Group G match against Brazil earlier this week listed Kim Myong-won, An Chol-hyok, Kim Kyong-il and Pak Sung-hyok as absent.

Reports quickly suggested that the quartet had gone AWOL at the World Cup and decided not to return to north-east Asia.

A source close to the team, talking to Goal.com, strongly denied such reports and offered a simple explanation.

"The team sheet was filled in incorrectly. The North Korean team marked four players absent. This is due to the fact that in their last tournament, the AFC Challenge Cup, each squad was only allowed to have 18 players so they thought it was the same at the World Cup.

“The mistake was noticed at the stadium and brought to the attention of the team but by then it was too late. It was then picked up by an Italian journalist. There is no truth to the rumours and no players have defected or gone AWOL."

North Korea are due to hold a press conference to address this issue later on Friday afternoon and then will continue their World Cup campaign against Portugal in Cape Town on Monday.

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