BURIRAM, Thailand (AP) — North Korea moved into second place in its Asian Cup qualifying group by beating Malaysia 4-1 on neutral turf in Thailand on Friday, finally starting a series that has been postponed three times.
The Asian Football Confederation intervened to ensure the match was played Thailand because of political tensions between North Korea and Malaysia.
Pak Kwang Ryong gave North Korea the lead 12th minute from the penalty spot, and Kim Yu Song made it 2-0 in the 42nd. Kim Yong Il scored in the 48th and Jong il Gwan made it 4-1 in the 59th.
Muhammad Safawi Rasid pulled one back for Malaysia in the 67th.
"Of course, it's very stressing that three games were postponed and that we cannot play at home first match against Malaysia," North Korea head coach Jorn Anderson said. "But ... the situations are like that. We have two matches here. We have to do it. The first match we win. And we are very satisfied."
North Korea was designated as the host of the first game. Malaysia will have to regroup quickly as the designated host of the return match on Monday at the same venue.
"Look, North Korea was a correct winner, but the defeat was very heavy concerning what happened," Malaysia coach Manuel Martinho Vingado said.
The win gives North Korea five points in Group B, level with Hong Kong. Lebanon leads with 10 points, while Malaysia is last with one. The top two teams advance.