Malaysia to take on North Korea in Pyongyang

Malaysia will travel to Pyongyang to face North Korea in their opening Asian Cup qualifier on June 8 as diplomatic tensions between the two countries appear to have eased.

In a statement released by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Pyongyang was named as host after the governing body received “confirmation from Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) that no government travel restrictions are in place”.

The Tigers were initially scheduled to visit Pyongyang in March but the match was postponed following a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Just a month away from the match, the national association has yet to name a new coach

Both governments had placed travel restrictions in and out of their respective countries following the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, elder brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Kuala Lumpur in February.

The AFC had initially given the Koreans until April 14 to arrange a neutral ground but no alternative was provided. The Asian governing body had previously said the match could proceed in Pyongyang if relationships improved between North Korea and Malaysia.

Having been given a date for the tie, the Tigers now know the tough trip that lies ahead of them.

What they don’t know, however, is who will sit in the Malaysian dugout.

Just a month away from the match, the national association has yet to name a new coach after prematurely ending Ong Kim Swee’s tenure on March 25.

The FAM had announced Mario Gomez as his replacement but the move backfired after they could not agree terms with the Argentine.

Photo: Asiana.my