North Korea were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Turkmenistan in their opening group game of the AFC Challenge Cup in Colombo on Wednesday.
The Koreans, fielding a team made up of mainly under-23 players, recovered from an early goal by Mamedaly by drawing level through a free-kick by Ryang Yong-gi before Turkmenistan were reduced to 10 players.
North Korean coach Jo Tong-sop blamed the setback on the heat.
"It was the first game and it was played in a very high temperature, the humidity made it hard for our players especially in the first half which we lost 1-0," he said.
"But in the second half we were able to recover because our players did their best and improved to earn a draw. It is a good first experience and will set us up for the upcoming games."
North Korea have been drawn in Group G with Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal for the June 11-July 11 tournament in South Africa.