North Korea book berth in Asian Cup finals

SINGAPORE - North Korea have booked their ticket to next year's Asian Cup finals by beating Turkmenistan on penalties to win the AFC Challenge Cup in Sri Lanka.

The Koreans, who will also play in the World Cup finals in South Africa later this year, held on for a 1-1 draw after extra time on Saturday despite being reduced to 10 men when Ryang Myong-il was dismissed in the 32nd minute.

Turkmenistan quickly took advantage of the extra man to go 1-0 up through Berdy Shamuradov a minute later but the Koreans were rewarded for their constant pressure when a Ryang Yong-gi header levelled up the contest in the 76th minute.

After a scoreless period of extra time, goalkeeper Ju Kwang-min clinched the Cup for the Koreans when he saved Arslanmyrat Amanov's penalty to secure a 5-4 victory in the shootout.

The biennial AFC Challenge Cup, previously won by Tajikistan and India, is a competition for Asia's "emerging" footballing nations, although some teams from the continent's second ranked pool of "developing" nations, like North Korea, also take part.

The Asian Cup, the continent's premier national team competition, takes place in Qatar from January 7-29 next year with the 16-team line-up to be finalised after the final round of qualifying matches on Wednesday.