AFC “North Korea to host third World Cup qualifier because of Syria”

North Korea’s U-23 national soccer team starters

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said the North Korean men’s national soccer team’s decision to play its first match of the 2026 North American Football Confederation (NAFTA) World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round in a third country was due to the situation in opponent Syria, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Thursday.

The AFC’s public affairs office responded to a written query from VOA asking if the decision to play the first leg of the second round qualifier against Syria in Saudi Arabia was “due to difficulties caused by the political situation in North Korea, such as the border blockade,” saying the decision was “unrelated to North Korea.

Syria will be the home team in the second round of the North American and Central American World Cup qualifiers and the second round of the Saudi Arabian Asian Cup 2027 joint qualifiers against North Korea on June 16,” the AFC said. “The qualifiers will be played on a home-and-away basis, but Syria will not be able to play at home, so the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has been selected as the venue.”

The Syrian national soccer team has not played a home game in years due to the country’s political situation, including the civil war.

The AFC said the match against Japan, scheduled for March 26 next year, would be the country’s first home game, suggesting that the venue has yet to be determined, VOA reported.

Contrary to the AFC’s statement, the North Korea-Syria match scheduled for March 16 had been announced as a home game for North Korea until the second round of qualifying was finalized. North Korea’s participation in the World Cup qualifiers marks the country’s return to FIFA-organized competition after a four-year absence.

North Korea participated in the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but played its last match in November 2019 and withdrew from the competition when qualifying resumed in June 2021, citing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

North Korea’s decision to host a home game also coincided with the country’s post-COVID-19 reopening of its closed border. 카지노사이트존

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