MANAMA, Bahrain (AP)—A second-half goal from substitute Chol Hyok gave North Korea a 1-0 victory over Bahrain on Tuesday in a warm-up match before the Asian Cup.
Hyok, who replaced Choe Kum Chol at halftime, collected a cross from Pak Chol Min on the left and fired past Bahrain goalkeeper Mahmood Mansoor.
The North Koreans, who played at last year’s World Cup in South Africa, will face a daunting task in Group D as they take on defending champion Iraq, three-time champions Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain is in Group C with Australia, India and South Korea.
Tuesday’s defeat followed a 1-0 loss to Saudi Arabia in Bahrain’s previous friendly held at the same venue. This time, Bahrain was without new skipper Salman Isa and fullback Abdulla Al Marzooqi, who both tore muscles during the defeat by the Saudis.
The North Koreans were meanwhile lifted by news from Germany where their striker Jong Tae-Se, who plays for second division side Bochum, has been released by his club for the Asian Cup.
The 26-year-old forward has been suffering from a persistent knee injury and his club had hoped he would remain in Germany to concentrate on fully recovering for the second half of the season. But after talks with the player, Bochum agreed to release him for the tournament.
Bahrain striker Jaycee John, who plays in Turkey for first division club Eskisehirspor, came close to giving his side an early lead, but his spectacular header was cleared off the line by North Korea keeper Ri Myong Guk with a finger-tip save.
North Korea’s best chance of the first half came in the 30th minute. Kim Kuk Jin broke through the Bahraini defence on the right before setting up Min whose shot was stopped by Bahrain keeper Mahmood Mansoor.