Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal | AFC Challenge Cup Group B | Scorers: Jon Kwang Ik, Ri Kwang Hyok, Pak Nam Chol, Ri Chol Myong
North Korea easily retained the Unofficial Football World Championships title, and progressed to the knock-out stage of the AFC Challenge Cup, with this routine win over a pitiful India. This was the final group match for both sides, with North Korea having already qualified for the semi finals, and India having already been eliminated. India, the Blue Tigers, lost both of their previous group matches 2-0, to Tajikistan and the Philippines. This was India's first ever UFWC title match, and it was a tough introduction to the tournament. The venue was the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium - a much larger ground than we saw for the previous two matches, with a capacity of 17,500, and the game was soundtracked by much whooping, and clanging of Nepalese bells. North Korea went ahead after just two minutes, with Jon Kwang Ik finding plenty of space in the penalty area to knock the ball into the far corner of the net across keeper Subhasish Roychowdhury. India's key tactic seemed to be for Roychowdhury to continuously boot long balls up to captain and centre forward Sunil Chhetri. It didn't work. Credit, though, to India for somehow holding out for another 30 minutes before North Korea scored again, this time through Ri Kwang Hyok, who tapped in after Roychowdhury's parry. North Korea had the ball in the net again before half-time, but, despite initial confusion, Jong Il Gwan's strike was ruled out by the referee. The first half ended 2-0 to North Korea. The North Korean lead was extended in the 58th minute, with the Indian defence presenting the ball to Pak Nam Chol in the penalty area, and the in-form striker easily strolling around defenders and goalkeeper to walk the ball into the net. It was Pak Nam Chol's third goal in three games. North Korea's fourth goal was probably the best, as Ri Chol Myong arrived to meet a whipped-in cross at the far post, and powered a great header past Roychowdhury. With twenty minutes left to play, the North Koreans continued to dominate without really creating any further clear chances. There were no further goals, and the match ended 4-0 to North Korea, a stroll in the park for the Unofficial Football World Champions. So North Korea retain the UFWC title, and take it into the knock-out stage of the AFC Challenge Cup. They also move up the UFWC all-time rankings table, and are now level with Poland and Nigeria (and above the likes of Portugal, the USA and South Korea) in 33rd place. North Korea will play Palestine in the semi finals on Friday, 16 March. (The other semi final, on the same day, is Turkmenistan vs the Philippines.) Up for grabs will be a place in the AFC Challenge Cup final, and of course the UFWC title. Palestine have never played in a UFWC title match before. They beat Nepal and the Maldives, and drew with Turkmenistan, to reach the semi finals. FIFA ranks Palestine 160th in the world, compared to North Korea at 111th. The two sides have never played each other previously. It would be remarkable if Palestine could become Unofficial Football World Champions given the political restrictions and security concerns the national team has to contend with. If they did win, they would be the only UFWC champions not to be officially recognised by the United Nations as a country.
You can find coverage of the match right here, and on our Twitter feed (@UFWC_Football)