Taking on North Korea in Pyongyang
THE Asian Cup qualifier between North Korea and Malaysia will be played in Pyongyang, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced yesterday, despite strained ties over an assassination in Kuala Lumpur.
The killing of Kim Jong-Nam — the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim JongUn — in February sparked a diplomatic row which saw both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving and withdrawing their ambassadors.
The AFC said the match would take place in the North Korean capital on June 8 after Malaysian football officials confirmed there were no longer any travel restrictions.
Malaysia had originally been due to play the match in Pyongyang on March 28 as a leadup to the 2019 tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
But Malaysian officials at the time banned the team from playing in Pyongyang, citing security fears, and the AFC decided to postpone the tie due to “escalating diplomatic tension.”
The travel ban was lifted in late March after a deal was struck involving the return of Kim’s body to North Korea.
The AFC had at that time said the match could take place at a neutral venue. AFP