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KFA is still preparing for game against North Korea

Sept 19,2019
Despite a cloud of uncertainty hanging over a scheduled World Cup qualifier in North Korea next month, the South Korean football federation is taking a “business as usual” approach.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Tuesday that North Korea’s silence on hosting the match against South Korea hasn’t affected its preparations.

Pyongyang is scheduled to host South Korea on Oct. 15 for a Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

But the North hasn’t responded to the KFA’s request for details on transportation, logistics and other administrative matters.

Though the clock is ticking, the KFA’s mindset is the match will take place as scheduled, an official there said.

“We sent an additional letter to the Asian Football Confederation on Monday to see where North Korea stands on the match,” the official added.

If the match goes on as scheduled, the KFA is hoping South Korean players will be able to travel directly across the border to North Korea, either by air or land, rather than take a detour through Beijing.

When South Korea sent its women’s national team to Pyongyang for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying tournament, the players collected their North Korean visas at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing.

“When North Korea tells us where we can pick up our visas, then we’ll prepare accordingly,” the KFA official said.

“We have also submitted to the Unification Ministry a list of items we need to take to North Korea.”

The KFA hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the match will be played in a third country.

In 2008, with much tension on the peninsula, North Korea refused to host South Korea in Pyongyang for matches in the penultimate and final rounds of the 2010 World Cup qualification. They squared off in Shanghai twice instead.

The KFA said head coach Paulo Bento will announce his October roster on Sept. 30. The plan is to arrive in the visiting city, whether it’s Pyongyang or another place, as close to the match day as possible.

There are eight groups of five in the second round this year. The eight group winners, plus the four-best runners-ups, will reach the next round.

North Korea has won their first two matches so far, beating Lebanon 2-0 on Sept. 5 and Sri Lanka 1-0 on Sept. 10.

South Korea has played one match in the group and defeated Turkmenistan 2-0 on Sept. 10 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Yonhap