North Korean football returns to the international stage after 4 years

North Korean soccer is expected to return to the World Cup soccer tournament organized by FIFA.

Citing Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on the 9th that North Korea has expressed its intention to participate in the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 North Korea-China U.S. World Cup. If North Korea plays in the Asian qualifying round, it will return to the World Cup stage for the first time in about four years since November 2019. At that time, North Korea participated in the second group stage of the Asian qualifying round to advance to the 2022 Qatar World Cup finals and played against South Korea, but withdrew due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The second Asian qualifying round for the North Korea-China-U.S. World Cup was organized according to FIFA rankings, and North Korea belonged to Group B. In addition to Japan and Syria, the winner of the first qualifying round between Myanmar and Macau will join Group B.

Since the preliminary group stage will be held in a “home-and-away” manner, attention is being paid to whether North Korea, which maintains the COVID-19 border blockade, will open its doors or accept foreign teams. North Korea’s first game is a home game that will bring Syria home on November 16.

In the 2026 North Korea-Central America World Cup, the number of finalists changed from 32 to 48, and the number of qualifications allocated to Asia also increased significantly from 4.5 to 8.5, raising the possibility that North Korean soccer will step on U.S. soil.

Meanwhile, North Korea, which did not participate in the Tokyo Olympics without permission due to COVID-19, was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), so there were observations that similar disciplinary measures might be applied to the World Cup. 토토사이트

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