DPR KOREA FIRST THROUGH TO AFC U-16 CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
Singapore: DPR Korea will get the chance to defend their Under 16 title after they became the first side to qualify for the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship following a 2-0 over Thailand on Sunday that saw them finish top of Group H.
DPR Korea, who ironically won the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship in Thailand when they defeated Korea Republic 2-1 in the final in Bangkok, took the lead with 33 minutes at the Jalan Besar Stadium played, with Kye Tam scoring his second of the qualifiers following his effort in the 3-0 Matchday 2 win over Singapore.
The North Koreans doubled their advantage two minutes after the hour mark when Paek Kwang-min scored what transpired to be the final goal of the game as Kim Yong-hun’s side topped Group H with a 100% record, booking their ticket to India having scored 12 and conceded none in their three matches in Singapore.
After Sunday’s disappointing finale, which saw Thailand finish with nine men after Sumana Salapphet was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 85th minute before Natthapong Nakpitak was red carded two minutes later, Khunnan Payong and his side must wait until the conclusion of the qualifiers on September 20 to see if they have done enough to go through as one of the best group runners-up.
Singapore, meanwhile, finished their campaign on a positive note as two goals in the last ten minutes saw the Group H hosts come from 1-0 down and defeat Cambodia in the later fixture at the Jalan Besar Stadium as the two ASEAN nations met to determine the third and fourth-place finishers.
Sieng Chanthea put the Cambodians one up three minutes after the interval only for Glen Kweh to pull Singapore level in the 69th minute.
As the game entered the 81st minute Khairie bin Abdul Hamid made it 2-1 for the hosts and with two minutes left on the clock Irfan Jeferee extended Singapore’s advantage as the Cubs ended the qualifiers with a win.
The ten other group winners and four best second-placed teams will join DPR Korea and India in next year’s finals, with the tournament hosts receiving an automatic qualification.
Should India finish top of their qualifying group or among the four best second-placed teams, the fifth best second-placed nation will qualify for the final competition.
The qualifying action continues on September 12 when Group G, which features Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Northern Mariana Islands, and Timor Leste, kicks-off in Vientiane, while the remaining nine other groups all get underway four days later.