North Korea emerge Group B toppers; India to face Myanmar in semis

August 4th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 4 (IANS) North Korea emerged as champions in Group B and moved into the semi-finals of the AFC Challenge Cup by defeating Myanmar 1-0 in their last group match at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium here Monday. Korea’s win brought in some good news for India, who will now face Myanmar in the semi-finals here Thursday. India coach Bob Houghton, who watched the match from the gallery, was a relived soul when he saw North Korean defender Hak Su Ro netting in the winner as early as in the 15th minute.

The result was surely the one, which Houghton was looking at, but after seeing Myanmar fighting out relentlessly for the equaliser, the 60-year-old will have to make some serious planning if India wants to make it to the final.

It was a lucky win for North Korea, who face Tajikistan in the other semi-final, as Myanmar came close to score the equaliser on numerous occasions but failed to find it. Soggy ground and intermittent drizzle made life difficult for both teams.

North Korean goalkeeper Kwang Min Ju was undoubtedly the star of the day as he made some acrobatic saves to thwart an obdurate Myanmar attack.

After taking the lead, North Korea looked complacent and that gave Myanmar ample room to launch an array of attacks. The Myanmarese midfielders adjusted well to the slow and sluggish nature of the turf and at time outpaced their opponents but failed to finish them.

Myanmar’s first chance came in the 33rd minute when Min Tun Myo’s powerful right-footer was saved well by Kwang. In the next minute, Pang Yang almost scored the equaliser but his header was disallowed due to an off-side.

Myat Min Soe and Maung Lwin Khin were also on target in the span of three minutes in the later stages of the first half but Kwang did well to parry both the chances.

The second half also continued in the same pace and Myanmar played well but were unlucky.

Myanmar coach Marcos Falopa is taking positives from the game.

“North Korea are tougher team than India. We played we and created opportunities against them. If we can repeat our performance, hopefully we can beat India,” he said.

In the other Group B match played at Gachibowli Stadium, Nepal defeated 2006 finalist Sri Lanka 3-0.

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