Malaysia could play Asian qualifier vs. N Korea on neutral soil - AFC
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) says Malaysia's rescheduled 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match away to North Korea could be played at a neutral venue.
With the Group B clash postponed three times due to security concerns and strained diplomatic ties between the nations, the Asian body added that a decision would be made at the end of this week.
The most recent rescheduled date was Oct. 5 for the match in Pyongyang, but it was called off after Malaysian authorities issued a travel ban on its citizens travelling to the Republic.
"All possibilities are open at the moment, including the match played on neutral ground," AFC general-secretary Datuk Windsor John Paul told ESPN FC.
"We will make a decision by the end of the week. The competitions' committee will make the decision on the date and venue of the match.
"We will be presenting our findings and facts to them, and they will make a decision based on that."
The Asian body also confirmed the new date will not affect the timeline of both nations' qualification.
Malaysia are supposed to host North Korea in the reverse group match on Nov. 14, nine days after the Malaysia Cup final brings down the curtain on the 2017 season.
The announcement comes in the wake of Malaysia's latest slump on the FIFA rankings, which sees them slip four rungs to 170 in the wake of Nelo Vingada's disastrous tenure in charge of the national side.
That ranking is not far off their worst-ever position of 174, which they occupied in April 2016.
Vingada has overseen four defeats and one draw in his five matches in charge since June, three of them in Asian Cup qualifying. Despite the Portuguese coach being winless, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have stood by him, insisting he be given more time.
In the meantime, Ong Kim Swee -- the man who was pushed aside to make way for Vingada -- has won eight of 10 matches with the under-22 side, and collected the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games silver medal for men's football in August.
The Harimau Malaya last appeared in the Asian Cup in 2007 as co-hosts with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, but lost all their group matches to finish bottom.
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.