Japan To Advance In World Cup Qualifying After North Korea Game Cancelled


Team Japan in action© AFP

Japan look set to reach the final stage of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup without kicking a ball after FIFA said their match in North Korea would not be rescheduled. North Korea was scheduled to host a qualifier in the capital Pyongyang on Tuesday, but five days before the games officials suddenly said without explanation that the isolated country could not play host. On Friday the Asian Football Confederation said the match was off and over the weekend FIFA said it “will neither be played nor rescheduled”, citing lack of space in the international football calendar.

“The matter and the outcome of the match will be referred to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee,” soccer's world governing body said.

The result could be a 3-0 defeat to North Korea, which would send Japan through to the third stage of World Cup qualifying in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Japan made it three wins out of three in Asian qualifying Group B by beating North Korea 1-0 in Tokyo on Thursday.

Coach Hajime Moriyasu, who took Japan to the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup after wins over Spain and Germany, was looking at North Korea's game as an opportunity to improve after an unconvincing performance in the home leg.

“It is unfortunate that we missed the opportunity to address the areas of concern and potential areas for improvement that emerged,” he said Friday.

“We will aim to improve as a team based on what we have built so far.”

Japan were eliminated 2-1 by Iran in the Asian Cup quarter-finals last month after entering the tournament as favourites.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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