Football Sport

Malaysia, North Korea Asian Cup qualifier to go ahead in Pyongyang

Image: FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to people attending a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – – Malaysia’s postponed Asian Cup qualifying match against North Korea will take place in Pyongyang on June 8 after the Asian Football Confederation confirmed travel restrictions previously in force had been lifted.

Diplomatic relations between the countries had been strained following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.

“Following confirmation from the Football Association of Malaysia that no Government travel restrictions are in place, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has agreed that the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Final Qualifying Round Group B match will now take place in Pyongyang, DPR Korea on June 8, 2017,” the regional body said in a statement released late Monday.

As tensions rose over Kim’s killing, the Malaysian national team was barred from travelling to North Korea, preventing them from playing the match on March 28, when it was originally scheduled. Provisional plans were for the teams to meet at a neutral venue.

(Reporting by Michael Church, editing by Larry King)

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