Turkmenistan vs North Korea
19 March 2012, Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu
AFC Challenge Cup Final
Kick off 18:30 local (12:45 GMT)

The final of this fascinating Asian confederation international tournament sees Unofficial Football World Champions and current AFC Challenge Cup holders North Korea take on Turkmenistan. In addition to playing for these two titles, the winners of this match will also qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The match is a repeat of the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup final. In that game, the score was 1-1 after 90 minutes, with North Korea having played for an hour with ten men following the dismissal of defender Ryang Myong Il. The North Koreans managed to hold out through extra time, and the match went to penalties. The decisive kick was taken by Turkmenistan’s Arslanmyrat Amanov – and was saved by North Korea’s Ju Kwang Min.

North Korea, the impressively efficient UFWC champions, will go into the match as favourites. Although the AFC Challenge Cup is a tournament primarily for ’emerging’ football nations, North Korea are actually categorised by the AFC as ‘developed’, which is no surprise considering that they qualified for the last World Cup finals tournament.

They have a young squad (eight of the 11 who started against Palestine are under 25), and coach Yun Jong Su has stated that he is specifically building a squad for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.

The Chollima have won all four of their previous AFC Challenge Cup matches, scoring ten goals and conceding none. The attacking midfielder Pak Nam Chol (#4) has been the stand-out North Korean performer so far. He scored in each of his country’s three group stage matches.

But a new star emerged alongside him in the semi final against Palestine, in the shape of 19-year-old Pak Kwang Ryong (#10). The Basel striker, who missed the knock-out stage of the tournament due to club commitments, scored both of North Korea’s goals in a comfortable 2-0 win.

The side’s ruthlessly organised defence, marshalled by captain Ri Kwang Chon (#5) alongside another Pak Nam Chol (#14), has also been impressive.

Turkmenistan, are classed by the AFC as ‘developing’, so again it is no surprise that they have managed to brush aside their ’emerging’ rivals to reach the final. The Green Men have won three of their four games so far during the tournament, scoring eight and conceding two.

Arslanmyrat Amanov (#17), who was just 19 when he failed to score that crucial penalty in 2010, has emerged as his country’s key player. The midfielder has scored in two games so far this tournament, as has team-mate Gahrymanberdi Conkayev (#20).

Turkmenistan’s coach is Yazguly Hojageldiyev. ‘We lost on penalties in the last Challenge Cup final so whether it is in 90 minutes, extra-time or penalties we will fight hard to achieve victory,’ he said ahead of today’s game.

North Korea coach Yun Jong Su’s pre-match comments have been one of the highlights of this tournament.

Before the semi final against Palestine, Yun Jong Su said, ‘We have seen the matches of Palestine and have analysed their tactics and will implement our strategy accordingly.’

Before today’s match against Turkmenistan he said, ‘Turkmenistan is a good side and we have analysed their games and have prepared our tactics for the final accordingly.’

‘We have prepared our team with only victory in this match in mind,’ he added, ‘but as for our strategy you will have to watch tomorrow.’

The game will be played in Kathmandu’s Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, on a playing surface that has looked very poor in previous rounds. Spectator interest has been relatively low since hosts Nepal were eliminated, and it’s unlikely there will be more than 3,000 watching this final. If the match is tied after 90 minutes, we will see extra time, and then, if required, a penalty shoot out.

You can also get live updates via our Twitter feed (@UFWC_Football), and we’ll have a full match report right here within minutes of the final whistle.

LIKELY STARTING 11s:

NORTH KOREA:
1  GK  RI MYONG GUK
 4  MF  PAK NAM CHOL
 5  DF  RI KWANG CHON
 8  MF  RI CHOL MYONG
 10  FW  PAK KWANG RYONG
 11  FW  JONG IL GWAN
 12  DF  JON KWANG IK
 13  FW  JANG MYONG IL
 14  DF  PAK NAM CHOL
 17  MF  AN YONG HAK
 20  DF  RI KWANG HYOK

TURKMENISTAN:
1  GK  RAHMANBERDI ALYHANOV
 6  MF  RUSLAN MINGAZOV
 8  MF  BAHTIYAR HOJAAHMEDOV
 12  DF  SERDAR ANNAORAZOV
 14  DF  GUVANCH REJEPOV
 17  FW  ARSLANMYRAT AMANOV
 19  DF  AHMET ATAYEV
 20  MF  GAHRYMANBERDI CHONKAYEV
 26  MF  ELMAN TAGAYEV
 30  MF  UMIDJAN ASTANOV
 34  DF  AKMYRAT JUMANAZAROV