North Korea’s soccer team, looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 16 years, dropped its first match in qualifying after a goalkeeping error led to a penalty kick.
North Korea lost 0-1 to Syria on Sunday (Sept. 17) at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the first match of Group B of the Asian second qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup 2026 (co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States).
North Korea, which is looking to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 16 years since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, was drawn in Group B alongside Japan, Syria and Myanmar. North Korea will play Syria in its first match before traveling to Myanmar for the second leg on Nov. 21. Initially, the game was scheduled to be played at home against North Korea, but the order was changed and the game was played at home against Syria. Due to the conflict in Syria, the home game was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a neighboring country. It seems that North Korea is not yet ready to allow foreigners into the country, which is why they changed the order of the home and away games with Syria.
The match will be North Korea’s first A-match since a friendly against Tajikistan in Ahmedabad, India, on July 19, 2019. North Korea went on to play South Korea in the Asian second round of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but all records of the second round were erased after the country withdrew from the tournament due to COVID-19.
Beginning with the 2026 North and Central American World Cup, the number of spots allocated to Asia will increase from 4.5 to 8.5 due to the change in the number of qualifying nations from 32 to 48. While Asian nations who have never been to a World Cup before are eager to get back to the tournament, North Korea failed to capitalize on a goalkeeping error in the first game of the crucial qualifier.
North Korea, ranked 115th in the FIFA rankings, were playing against 92nd-ranked Syria, who were ranked higher than them, when a huge mistake by goalkeeper Kang Joo-hyuk in the 36th minute put them in front.
As the ball rose high and crossed into the penalty box, Kang left his goal and came forward to deal with the ball. At this point, Kang attempted to jump, expecting the ball to be heavily bound as it was falling from a high angle.
However, Syrian striker Omar Karbin, who had entered the box, was one step ahead of him and managed to get a touch on the ball as it was falling, making it his own. Karvin then collided with Kang Joo-hyuk as he jumped and fell, and the referee didn’t hesitate to call a foul on Kang, awarding Syria a penalty kick.
With the opportunity to take the lead, Syria sent forward Omar Alsoma to take the kick. Alsoma fooled goalkeeper Kang Joo-hyuk perfectly and slotted the ball into the right corner of the goal for a valuable lead. 아톰카지노 도메인
Kang Joo-hyuk’s mistake from the penalty spot proved to be the game-winner, and North Korea failed to pick up a point as they dropped their first match of the Asian qualifiers 0-1.
Meanwhile, the match between Japan and Myanmar at the Panasonic Stadium Suita on Sept. 16 ended in a 5-0 victory for the Japanese, moving them to the top of Group B on goal difference. Second place goes to Syria, while North Korea, who lost but only conceded one goal, is third. Myanmar, who conceded five goals in a crushing defeat, drops to fourth. Of the 36 teams in the Asian secondary qualifiers, only the first and second-place finishers in each group will advance to the final round.
North Korea, who pulled out of the tournament midway through the second round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, got off to a shaky start, losing their first game against Syria after a goalkeeping error.