Malaysia, N Korea to play Asian Cup ties in Thailand

afc-northkorea-malaysiaKUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and North Korea will play their delayed Asian Cup qualifiers in Thailand next month, football officials said today, after the matches were postponed over a diplomatic row and nuclear tensions.

The Asian Football Confederation said it had chosen Thailand as the neutral venue for the games on Nov 10 and 13, at a stadium which is yet to be confirmed.

The first leg was originally scheduled for March 28 in Pyongyang, but it was postponed twice after the murder of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia in February sent tensions soaring.

The game was finally due to go ahead earlier this month in Pyongyang, but was delayed again after Kuala Lumpur banned travel to North Korea as global alarm grew at the regime’s weapons programme.

Kim Jong Nam’s assassination sparked a diplomatic crisis which saw both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving, and withdrawing their ambassadors. Tensions have since eased.