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North and South Korea to meet in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

/ 07:41 PM July 17, 2019

FILE — The Uzbekistan, South Korean, North Korean and Indian flags fly during an AFC Women’s 2018 Asian Cup Group B qualifying football match between North and South Korea at the Kim Il-Sung stadium in Pyongyang on April 7, 2017. South Korea’s flag flew and its anthem sounded in Pyongyang on April 7 as its women’s football team played out a 1-1 draw with their neighbours, in the first ever competitive soccer match between the two countries hosted by the North. (Photo by KIM Won-Jin / AFP)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in an Asian qualifying group for football’s 2022 World Cup.

The Korean neighbors will play each other home and away in the five-nation Group H that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.

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Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in Wednesday’s draw that involved 40 national teams and some political sensitivities.

READ: North’s anthem played for South Korea at U19 football tournament

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The Saudis, which played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore.

Top-ranked Iran was drawn with neighboring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates is top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Australia, which plays in the Asian football confederation, will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

READ: Philippine Azkals to face familiar foes in World Cup qualifying

World Cup host Qatar also plays as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. Qatar will play Oman, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh in Group E.

China is in Group A with Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan is in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

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The eight groups play from September through June.

READ: South Korea sends World Cup bid plan to North

Group winners and the four best runners-up advance to another group stage, played from September 2020 to October 2021. Those 12 teams also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup. A fifth nation can advance to Qatar in an intercontinental playoff round in March 2022.

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TAGS: 2022 World Cup, Football, North Korea, South Korea, Sports
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