Malaysia appeals over rescheduled North Korea qualifier

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has received an appeal from Malaysia against having to play their 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang next month and is looking into it, the confederation said on Wednesday.

Relations between the countries deteriorated after the assassination of the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took place at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.

Kim Jong-nam was killed by assassins using a nerve agent, and as the diplomatic situation became tense, both countries announced travel bans which prevented Malaysia from travelling to Pyongyang for the match on it original date of March 28.

The AFC announced on Monday that it had confirmed with the Malaysian football association (FAM) that travel restrictions had now been lifted and that the postponed match would take place on June 8.

“I can confirm that we have received the appeal (from Malaysia) and we are considering it,” an AFC spokesman was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Tuesday expressed concerns over the safety of the national team should they travel to Pyongyang.

“The tension between Malaysia and North Korea may be over but the [North Korea] is facing several issues involving the outside world,” he said.