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Malaysia To Play North Korea In Pyongyang After AFC Ruling

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MALAYSIA will play their rescheduled 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang on June 8 after a ruling by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday.

The game was originally scheduled for March 28 at the same venue in the Republic’s capital city before being postponed due to security concerns.

AFC was considering moving the match to a neutral venue, possibly in China, but the game will now go ahead at its original location.

“Following confirmation from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) that no government travel restrictions are in place, the AFC has agreed that the Asian Cup 2019 qualifying round Group B match will now take place in Pyongyang, DPR Korea on June 8, 2017,” an AFC statement read.

AFC had given FAM until May 8 to confirm the diplomatic status between the nations following the death of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.

The need to travel to Pyongyang will add to the atmosphere of uncertainty after the appointment of the Crown Prince of Johor (TMJ) as the new FAM president in March.

Malaysia have yet to appoint a new head national coach to replace Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who was bumped down to take charge of the under-23 side after TMJ’s appointment. Former Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) coach Mario Gomez, the original choice, turned down the job due to financial reasons.

Former Kedah coach Tan Cheng Hoe, touted as a future assistant boss, could fill in as caretaker coach after leaving the 2016 Malaysia Cup champions last month.

FAM secretary general Datuk Hamidin Amin said last week said the national body is talking to two potential overseas candidates, including one from Portugal.

North Korea are 42 spots above Malaysia in the FIFA rankings at 116th in the world.

After their Group B opener in Pyongyang, Malaysia will return home to face Lebanon in their second Asian Cup qualifier at Larkin Stadium in the southern state of Johor on June 13. – ESPN FC

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