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Decision On Neutral Venue To Be Announced Tomorrow

KUALA LUMPUR – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will decide on a change of venue for the North Korea-Malaysia match to a neutral ground tomorrow.

AFC secretary-general Datuk Windsor Paul said a decision would be made by the confederation’s Competition Committee after receiving a request from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to skip playing in Pyongyang over security concerns.

“The Competition Committee will make a decision tomorrow and will announce it tomorrow itself. This is what I can say now,” he said when contacted by Bernama today.

The squad led by Datuk Ong Kim Swee is scheduled to face North Korea in a Group B opening match for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying third round at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on March 28.

However, due to diplomatic tension following the murder of the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, at KL International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13, the government had prohibited Harimau Malaysia from playing in that country for security reason.

On Tuesday, the Malaysian government had also banned North Koreans in Malaysia from leaving the country, after North Korea prevented 11 Malaysians from leaving that country.

The request for a neutral ground is not something new in football as countries such as Israel, Palestine, Syria and Saudi Arabia had played at neutral venues for certain reasons.

The return match between the two teams scheduled for Nov 14 may also be moved to another neutral venue.

Meanwhile, FAM secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, when contacted, said FAM had yet to receive news on any latest development from AFC.

Hamidin had on Tuesday, said that AFC was expected to announce a decision on the request after the application to change the venue was sent on Monday. – BERNAMA