The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers second round draw produced some interesting pools including a Group G which is made up of four sides from ASEAN.
However, Group H also promises to be one to keep an eye on with Korea Republic facing their neighbours DPR Korea in a pool which also features Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.
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Tension has brewed between South and North Koreas for decades, though their relationship has improved in recent times. And it is not often that the two neighbours face each other in international sporting events with DPR Korea’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics held in South Korea seen as a major breakthrough.
The two sides last faced each other in the qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup which was held in Germany.
“This is a sports question,” said Korea Republic head coach Paulo Bento when asked what it means to face the North Koreans in the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers which will begin in September 2019.
“We are going to play two games against North Korea in the same way that we are going to play two games against the rest of the teams in the group and try to win all the games that we are going to play, respecting all the teams in the way that we have until now,” said the former Portugal midfielder (via AFP).
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Korea Republic 2-1 Bahrain – Kim Jin-su (105+2′)
North Koreans are scheduled to host the South Koreans on October 15 while the return fixture will be held on June 4, 2020. Only the winner of the group will progress to the next round of the qualifiers while four best second-placed teams from the eight groups will also advance.
Korea Republic are 37th in the FIFA World Rankings and have played all World Cups since 1986 while their neighbours have only managed to qualify for two — 1966 and 2010.
DPR Korea are currently taking part in the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019 in India where they will face Tajikistan in the final on Friday.