Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Korea qualify for World Cup

North Korea qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1966 following a goalless draw in Saudi Arabia watched by 66,000 fans.

Iran's failure to defeat South Korea in Seoul earlier meant that North Korea only needed a draw in Riyadh.

They join South Korea, Australia and Japan as Asia's four automatic qualifiers for South Africa 2010.

North Korea's Kim Yong Jun was sent off in the fifth minute of injury-time, but by then his team were all but through.

In the 1966 event in England North Korea famously defeated Italy at Middlesbrough's Ayresome Park.

And in the quarter-finals they led Portugal 3-0 at one stage before going down 5-3 as Eusebio inspired a remarkable comeback at Goodison Park.

In Wednesday evening's match, North Korea found themselves under a lot of pressure but they held firm at the King Fahd International Stadium.

The Saudis threatened from the start, but were unable to capitalise on a number of scoring opportunities as Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk produced some fine saves.

Saudi Arabia will get another chance to progress after finishing third in Group B to advance to the Asian play-offs, where they will face Bahrain.

They will play each other over two legs in September, with the winners advancing to a home-and-away play-off against Oceania winners New Zealand in October and November.

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