Malaysia's Asian Cup qualifier to go ahead in North Korea - AFC
Malaysia's AFC Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea, twice rescheduled, will finally go ahead in Pyongyang on Oct. 5, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced.
The match was originally scheduled for March 28 and then June 8, only to be called off because of security concerns, due to strained diplomatic ties between the nations.
After North Korea hosted Lebanon in another qualifier on Tuesday without incident, the Asian body decided that the venue for Malaysia's next match on the road to the 2019 Asian Cup would remain.
"Lebanon played in Pyongyang [on Tuesday], and there were no complaints by the team or match officials. At the moment, there is no change in venue," AFC secretary-general Datuk Windsor Paul told New Straits Times.
The respective governments were at odds at with each other following the death of Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.
Malaysia boss Nelo Vingada was prepared to travel to North Korea, with more concerns of getting his first win since taking over in May after three defeats in four matches.
"I have gone there before, when I was in charge of Jordan. I don't see an issue, they are good hosts who gave us comfortable accommodation when we were there. The people are lovely too," Vingada told ESPN FC.
The Portuguese coach is fully aware the next two away matches against North Korea and Hong Kong on Oct. 5 and Oct. 10 will determine if Malaysia stay in the running for the regional tournament.
Vingada's men are bottom of their group, with only one point out of a possible six, despite opening their campaign with two home matches.
They lost to group leaders Lebanon 2-1 on June 13 before playing out a 1-1 draw with Hong Kong in an ill-tempered match on Tuesday.
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.