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World Cup: North Korea On Top Of Group After UAE Victory

Pak Nam Chol and Mun In Guk gave North Korea a big push in the direction of South Africa on Saturday afternoon in Pyongyang by giving their team a 2-0 win over UAE in their 2010 World Cup qualification clash.

With previous leaders South Korea inactive and Iran and Saudi Arabia doing battle later on Saturday, Group Two makes fine reading for all fans north of the 38th Parallel.

North Korea have ten points from five games, two ahead of their neighbours and Wednesday’s opponents South Korea and four more than Iran in third.

The defeat ends any UAE chance of a second appearance on the global stage and leaves the team with one point from five matches.

As expected on a grey Saturday afternoon in the capital, the hosts took the game to their well-wrapped visitors.

North Korea struggled to break down the massed white ranks at first but started to turn possession into chances in the latter stages of the opening period.

Jong Tae-se was set free by Hong Yong Jo on the half hour and from the edge of the area fired his shot straight into the chest of goalkeeper Majed Nasser who had advanced quickly.

Hong tested Nasser shortly after with a well-taken free-kick that was destined for the top corner before it was tipped over and the keeper was at full stretch just before the break to turn over a powerful Jong header.

Nasser’s opposite number, Ri Myung Guk, was called into action on the stroke of half-time to tip an Ismail Al Hammadi free-kick over.

North Korea continued to attack after the break and finally broke the deadlock nine minutes after the break and in spectacular fashion.

There seemed to be little danger for the visitors when Pak Nam Chol received the ball outside the area but in one motion the midfielder controlled the ball and then, with his left foot, lashed it into the top corner of the UAE goal past the despairing dive of Nasser.

The hosts continued to attack and Nasser was again helpless ten minutes from the end as Mun In Guk fired a fierce shot against the post from the edge of the area.

UAE pushed forward in the final stages and gave the hosts a few nervous moments but that was all forgotten deep into injury time when Yun Jin Man threaded a fine pass across the six-yard box for Mun to score from close range. 

1: North Korea  10    2: South Korea   8       3: Iran    6      4: Saudi Arabia    4     5: UAE   1

John Duerden, Asia Editor