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North Korea lost 0-1 to Syria in the first match of Group B of the 2026 FIFA North and Central America World Cup Asia 2nd qualifying round held at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the 17th (Korean time).
North Korea, ranked 115th in the FIFA rankings, was inferior to Syria, ranked 92nd. North Korea collapsed on its own when goalkeeper Kang Joo-hyuk committed a major disaster.
Kang Joo-hyuk left the goal to deal with an aerial ball in the 36th minute of the first half. Kang Joo-hyuk jumped first to catch the ball in the air. But he misjudged the landing point of the ball and he ran too fast. Meanwhile, Syrian striker Omar Karbin ran one step ahead and took possession of the ball. Kang Joo-hyuk lost his balance in the air and attacked Carvin. The referee declared a penalty kick due to Kang Joo-hyuk's charge.
Syria took a 1-0 lead with Omar Al-Soma's successful shot. In the end, the game ended as North Korea was unable to score an equalizing goal. The North Korean goalkeeper's obvious misjudgment of the situation led to a major disaster.
This is not the first time North Korea has committed ‘gag soccer’. In the 2016 U16 Asian Championship match between North Korea and Uzbekistan, the North Korean goalkeeper was unable to block the goal kick taken by the opposing goalkeeper and conceded a goal. The North Korean goalkeeper failed to catch the ball, which he could have easily caught, after falling twice.
At that time, the North Korean goalkeeper conceded a goal with an absurd pass. It turned out that AFC's investigation revealed that North Korea staged a 'comedy show' to intentionally lose. North Korea deliberately lost to Uzbekistan, avoiding strong Iraq in the quarterfinals and meeting weak Oman. In the end, North Korea succeeded in advancing to the semifinals, which it wanted, and earned a spot in the U17 World Cup.
As a result of AFC's subsequent disciplinary action, the North Korean Football Association was fined $20,000, and the coach and goalkeeper were each fined and suspended for one year.
The North Korean goalkeeper's actions became a hot topic in Japan as well. Japanese soccer media outlet ‘Football Zone’ could not hide its surprise, saying, “North Korea committed a very foolish and foolish foul.”
Friday, November 17, 2023