North Korea and Iraq face sanctions over no-shows

DOHA - Holders Iraq and secretive North Korea could face sanctions from the AFC for failing to send a player to their media conferences on Monday ahead of their opening Asian Cup matches.

"The teams are obliged to bring one player to every pre-match conference. We will pass on this matter to the AFC disciplinary committee for them to decide," an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official told Reuters.

North Korea will play United Arab Emirates in the Group D opener at the Qatar Sports Club before the other match in the pool between Iraq and Iran at the Al Rayyan Stadium later on Tuesday.

North Korean coach Jo Tong-sop was late for their scheduled media briefing, which the team's spokesman and translator said was his fault, and was re-arranged with around 35 journalists in attendance.

A question put to Jo in English about the difficulties of coaching a side in a heavily restricted country were not translated by the team spokesman, who told people to come to North Korea and find out for themselves.

North Korea were one of Asia's four representatives at last year's World Cup but after a spirited display in losing narrowly 2-1 to five-times champions Brazil, they were humbled 7-0 by Portugal and 3-0 to Ivory Coast.

Jo replaced Kim Jong-hun after the tournament in South Africa and said the team had learned from only their second World Cup finals appearance and were aiming to reach the quarter-finals in Qatar.

Should they reach the last eight the North could possibly face South Korea but Jo refused to talk about a match between the two countries, who remain technically at war and have exchanged artillery fire since the sinking of a South navy ship last year.