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Rival Koreas play out yet another draw

SoccerNews in World Cup 10 Sep 2008

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Rivals and neighbours North Korea and South Korea played out a 1-1 draw in Asian World Cup qualification on Wednesday in front of a paltry crowd.

Staged at a neutral venue here, only about 500 fans turned up at the Hongkou Stadium. They saw North Korean Hong Yong-Jo convert a penalty in the 63rd minute but the South's Ki Sung-Yeung scored five minutes later to salvage the draw.

This was the fourth draw between the rivals in 2008 alone, although the North will be disappointed not to have come away with a victory.

The North now have a win and a draw in their first two matches in the fourth qualifying round after a 2-1 win over the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.

This was the South's first game in this final qualification phase.

“We were so close to getting the win,” said North Korean head coach Kim Jong-Hun. “But our players did their best. We have played one more game and we were a bit more tired than the South Koreans.”

Hong scored from the penalty spot after South captain Kim Nam-Il handballed.

But the South got back into the game soon after when Ki, at 19 the youngest South Korean, scored with a right-footed strike after being set up by Kim Do-Heon.

After a quiet first-half, the North were clearly the better side in the second half. Jong Tae-Se set up Hong for a right-footed shot that went wide in the 57th minute before the North deservedly went ahead.

Belatedly, with the scores level, South Korea showed some signs of life. In the 80th minute, Kim Do-Heon sent Kim Dong-Jin away deep in the North half but his dangerous cross from the left was cleared.

At the ensuing corner, Ki's header was well saved by the North Korean keeper.

South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo said he wasn't pleased with the result. “There was so much pressure on us to win this game and that affected our team tonight,” he said, referring to the rivalry between the teams and the countries.

“But we still have games left and I believe we're good enough to reach the World Cup.”

North Korea next visit Iran, on October 15. On the same day the South will host the United Arab Emirates in Seoul.

Still technically at war, the two Koreas played here in China after FIFA agreed to switch the venue from Pyongyang after the North refused to let the South play its national anthem and fly its flag at the game.

Relations between the Koreas have been increasingly frosty since President Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul earlier this year.

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