AFC U-16 qualifiers review: North Korea top Group H

On the final day of the AFC U-16 Championship Group H qualifiers, defending champions North Korea dispatched Thailand 2-0 to make it through to the tournament proper while hosts Singapore came from behind to beat Cambodia 3-1.

North Korea finished top of Group H with a perfect nine points while Thailand had to be content with second place after collecting six points.

Meanwhile Singapore claimed a respectable third place finish with three points, while Cambodia ended bottom of the group with zero points.

North Korea 2 Thailand 0

Defending champions North Korea made light work of Thailand in what was expected to be a close affair.

After a series of promising attacks, the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) champions broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark.

Kim Hwi Hwang’s thunderous shot just inside the box was only parried by Thailand keeper Wutthipong Thiangthae into the path of Kye Tam, who stooped to head home the rebound.

Kim Yong Hun’s boys went on to double the advantage 17 minutes into the second half.

Yun Min’s inswinging corner was only half-cleared into the path of Paek Kwang Min, whose first-time volley on the edge of the box went in via a deflection off a Thai defender.

The Thais thought they had pulled a goal back on the 74th minute when substitute Arnon Prasongporn finished clinically from Tharadon Sornyoha’s through ball, but the offside flag was up.

The frustrated AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) champions then lost their discipline in the closing stages as they ended the game with just nine men.

Right-back Sumana Salapphet was shown a second yellow card for a kung-fu-like challenge on Kim Kyong Sok, before Nattapong Nakpitak followed suit with a straight red for hacking down Kim Chung Jin in the middle of the park. 

Th North Koreans picked up their third win in as many matches and finished top of Group H without conceding a single goal.

Singapore 3 Cambodia 1

In the other Group H game, hosts Singapore staged a late comeback show to down Cambodia 3-1.

All four goals came in the second half, with Cambodia startung the ball rolling two minutes after the break.

Teat Kimheng’s quick free kick over the top caught the Singapore defence napping as forward Sieng Chanthea coolly finished past the onrushing Singapore keeper Kevin Wong with his first touch.

Singapore levelled matters on 69 minutes as forward Glenn Kweh thumped home in the six-yard box after some good work by Khairul Hairie Abdul Hamid down the left.

Provider Khairul Hairie turned scorer 12 minutes later as his snap-shot from the edge of the box was spilled into goal by Cambodia goalkeeper Kong Raphath.

The comeback was completed two minutes from time as midfield hard man Irfan Jeferee embarked on a 70-yard run after intercepting Rort Bunnou’s pass, before seeing his attempted cross fumbled into goal once again by the unlucky Kong.

The result meant Cambodia would end up with the wooden spoon, bottom of Group H with three consecutive losses.

Main Photo: Mohammad Hanif