East Asia AFC Asian Cup

North Korea clinch third straight Asian Cup appearance

North Korea became the 22nd nation to qualify for next January’s AFC Asian Cup on Tuesday night with an emphatic 2-0 win over Hong Kong at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-Sung Stadium.

The hosts took the lead through Luzern striker Jong Il-Gwan’s goal in the 18th minute, with SKN St. Polten forward Pak Kwang-Ryong doubling the lead just six minutes later.

Roughly 40 Hong Kong supporters made the journey to Pyongyang according to Offside HK editor Christie Leung, who provided English-language match coverage via translations of the Hong Kong Premier League’s play-by-play updates.

The match was not broadcast live after Hong Kong broadcaster Now TV balked at the $127,000 fee requested by the North Korean Football Association, according to the South China Morning Post.

The win ensures that head coach Jorn Andersen’s men will finish second in Group B behind Lebanon, who are already through to the UAE-hosted main event with 13 points.

With a seed in Pot 4 likely, the reclusive nation will hope to improve on their 2011 and 2015 Asian Cup campaigns, both of which ended without a win.