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Both Koreas in World Cup

For the first time in 44 years North Korea will play in the World Cup.

南宁桑拿

They needed just one point from their match against Soudia Arabia in Riadh last night to booked a spot in the tournament in South Africa next year.

The North Koreans held firm for a scoreless draw to finish second in their group and join South Korea which came first as automatic qualifiers.

It will be the first time both Koreas will be part of the football’s competition and the North’s first appearance since their trailblazing quarter-final performance at the 1966 tournament in England.

Battle for fifth begins

There was gloom in Iran as they blew their qualification chance in their must-win match against South Korea with a 1-1 draw.

The Saudis still have a hope of qualifying as part of the Asia’s third-place playoff they can beat Bahrain.

They will then need a win over the Oceania champions New Zealand if they are to reach their fifth consecutive World Cup finals next year.

Bahrain qualified for September’s Asian playoff with a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in Manama to finish third behind Australia and Japan in Group 1.

North Koreans hold Saudi storm

The Saudis attacked from the kickoff, needing to take all three points to leapfrog North Korea into the second automatic qualifying spot, but the North Koreans hung on.

“We battled to qualify for the World Cup finals,” North Korean coach Kim Jong-Hun says.

“It was so hot in Saudi Arabia after the long journey from Korea, but the belief in the ability of the players snatched the ticket to South Africa.”

“We focused on defending as we had come under a lot of pressure from the Saudis and I think our preparation for the game was one factor that earned the victory.”

Saudi Arabia remain confident

Losing coach Jose Peseiro says he remains confident Saudi Arabia could still qualify through the back door as the fifth Asian team for South Africa.

“It was a game against a strong team who just came here to bag one point, and they did. I think it is a historical moment for the Koreans,” Mr Peseiro says.

Iran’s hopes dashed

Six Iranians players were wearing green wrist bands to symbolise their support for defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

But in Seoul away from the turmoil in Iran, the team’s chance of qualifying for the World Cup was crushed by a second-half equaliser for South Korea from Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung.

“We played too conservatively after scoring the first goal,” Iranian coach Afshin Ghotbi says.

“Our defence sat back and allowed South Korea to dominate the match.”

Group one results

In Group 1, second-half substitute Mahmood Abdulrahman struck a thunderous free-kick in the 74th minute to clinch victory for Bahrain over the Uzbeks to keep their World Cup dream alive.

Tim Cahill popped up for his match-winning brace against Japan after Australia had conceded their first goal in eight qualifiers.

Cahill scored in the 59th and 76th minutes to continue his “lucky charm” effect on the Socceroos and conjure memories of his late double when Australia came from behind to beat Japan 3-1 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Japan’s 2-1 loss to Australia in Melbourne last night means they came second in group 1 and automatically qualify for the World Cup.

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