It wasn't pretty but the North Koreans managed to successfully frustrate the UAE and gain a point...
After a bright start from both sides punctuated by neat passing from both sides, North Korea were presented with the ideal opportunity to open the scoring in the eighth minute when Hamdan Al Kamali clumsily brought down Jong Tae Se inside the penalty area. Captain Hong Yong Jo stepped up from twelve yards only to see his spot-kick graze the crossbar.
Bochum striker Jong was bright throughout the first-half and showed no signs of the thigh injury he is nursing. He showed why he has eight goals in the 2. Bundesliga this season with some excellent movement across his marker, resulting in two half-chances, both of which went wide of the goal.
UAE slowly began to take the game by the scruff of the neck, with Subait Khater's set-pieces prompting uncertainty and panic in the North Korean defence. His testing delivery created opportunities for Ismail Matar, who forced Myong-Guk Ri into a smothering save on 23 mins and two minutes later, an unmarked Al Kamali headed narrowly over the crossbar.
North Korea began to drop ever deeper and invite UAE to set the tempo in a return to the style of play that secured qualification for the last World Cup. Emirates' coach Srecko Katanec frustrated at his side's failure to break the deadlock before the interval, despite Ahmed Khalil, the impressive Matar and Yusuf Jaber all going close.
Korean captain Hong was sacrificed minutes into the second-half however, the change did nothing to alter the pattern of play. Tong Sop Jo's men succeeded in stifling Al Abyd and in a rare sight of goal, UAE right-back Khalid Sebil flashed a long-range drive inches wide of the post with fifteen minutes remaining.
Having looked the more accomplished side throughout in terms of technical ability, the fluency of the UAE game mysteriously evaporated in the closing stages with the men in red unable to keep possession. However, they sprung into life at the very end with Myong-Guk Ri producing two excellent reflex stops to deny Ismail Al Hammadi and Saeed Al Kathiri.
The North Koreans take on Iran in their second game with four days time, while Iraq are the UAE's next opponents in Group D. Both sides will need to show a marked improvement if they are to progress from the group stages.