Malaysia vs. North Korea Asian Cup qualifier moved to June 8
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have set June 8 as the rescheduled date for the AFC Asian Cup qualifier between North Korea and Malaysia, which was slated to take place on March 28 in Pyongyang but was postponed due to "escalating diplomatic tension" between both governments.
"It is only date available on the FIFA calendar, as we cannot change the match sequence of the fixtures," AFC general secretary Datuk Windsor Paul John told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur based AFC headquarters on Wednesday.
"We have given the DPR Korea until April 14 to provide us with a neutral venue, in the event that the diplomatic relationships between both governments have not been solved.
"We are also to receive from them in writing the security guarantees for players, officials, fans and the media. Besides that, they must also provide visa confirmations and financial agreements in black and white to the AFC."
If the rescheduled match is played on a neutral ground, then the reverse Group B fixture on Nov. 14 -- which was initially supposed to take place at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur -- will also be played on neutral ground.
"This will be done for sporting reasons, so Malaysia's home game against them will also be played on neutral ground. If DPR Korea cannot find a venue for the June 8 game, AFC will proceed to find it for them," added Windsor.
The Malaysian government had on March 6 barred the national team from making the trip to Pyongyang after both governments clashed over investigation proceedings of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un who was assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb. 13.
The strained relationship escalated after Malaysia had evicted the North Korean ambassador from the country, and the Republic swiftly responded by barring Malaysians from leaving its perimeters.
The postponement means the Malaysia will play two Asian Cup qualifiers in the space of five days.
After North Korea, Malaysia are bound to face Lebanon in Kuala Lumpur on June 13.
Hong Kong complete the other nation in the group for the third-round qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.