Kathmandu: Defending Champions DPR Korea made a solid start to their 2012 AFC Challenge Cup campaign with a comfortable 2-0 defeat of the Philippines in Friday's Group B opener at the Halchowk Stadium.
DPR Korea dominated the first-half but were denied a 16th minute lead when Azkal's keeper Neil Etheridge saved a retaken Pak Song-chol penalty.
The midfielder had thought he had netted his ninth AFC Challenge Cup goal to equal the tournament record set by Palestine's Fahed Attal but Indian referee Pratap Singh ruled out the goal citing encroachment inside the box.
Etheridge, who only arrived in Nepal on Wednesday, was in inspired form denying the 2012 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on ne fewer than five occasions as the Philippines went into the break on level terms with the AFC Challenge Cup favourites.
The North Koreans finally broke through the resilient Philippines defence courtesy of Pak Nam-chol's 58th minute header before Etheridge - an understudy to Australia international Mark Schwarzer at English Premier League club Fulham - failed to deal with a high cross from the right, allowing substitute Jang Kuk-chol to double the defending champions' lead 11 minutes later.
DPR Korea sought to add to their tally and laid siege on the Philippines goal but a combination of some staunch defending and fine keeping from Etheridge kept the scoreline respectable.
source : the-afc.com
Match summary : link