North Korea and Malaysia will play their 2019 Asian Cup qualifying matches at a neutral venue in November “because of raised political tensions”, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Friday.
Diplomatic relations between the countries soured 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.
In the wake of the killing, Malaysia barred its citizens from travelling to North Korea, which prevented the national team from playing a qualifier originally scheduled for March 28 in Pyongyang.
“In the interests of competition fairness, it has been decided that both matches between the two countries will be played at the same neutral venue,” the AFC said in a statement on Friday.
North Korea’s ‘home’ match will take place on Nov. 10 and the return fixture three days later, it added, without identifying the venue.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty/Peter Rutherford)