Halchowk Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal AFC Challenge Cup Group B Scorers: Pak Nam Chol, Jang Kuk Chol
North Korea retained the UFWC title and remain Unofficial Football World Champions with this comfortable victory over Tajikistan. This was North Korea's fourth successful defence of the title since taking it from Japan in November. The scoreline and the scorers were identical to those in Friday's match against the Philippines. This was the second Tajikistan vs North Korea UFWC title match within the space of two weeks. The previous match, played on 29 February, ended 1-1. And this was Tajikistan's fourth shot at the UFWC title within five months. They were hammered 8-0 and 4-0 by then-champions Japan in October and November respectively. This title match, of course, was also a group match in the AFC Challenge Cup tournament. Tajikistan and North Korea won their opening matches on Friday by the same scoreline - 2-0 - against India and the Philippines respectively, and sat level at the top of Group B. North Korea are the reigning AFC Challenge Cup holders, and they remain favourites to retain that title after this win. But our interest was focussed on the UFWC. Like Friday's North Korea vs Philippines title match, today's game was played at the tiny Halchowk Stadium in Kathmandu in front of a small crowd on onlookers. Challengers Tajikistan, the Persian Lions, lined up with Akhtam Khamrakulov and Nuriddin Davronov, the scorers against India, both in the side. Khamrakulov scored in the previous meeting between the sides. North Korea, the Chollima, went with Pak Nam Chol and Jong Il-Gwan up front. Pak Nam Chol scored North Korea's opening goal against the Philippines on Friday, and also scored the goals in North Korea's 1-0 win over Tajikistan in September, and the 1-0 UFWC win over Japan in November. And it was Pak Nam Chol who opened the scoring after just four minutes to give North Korea an early lead. A long ball through the middle split the Tajik defence, and the impressive striker finished comfortably. Pak Nam Chol plays for top North Korea team April 25, or 4.25. On recent performances, the 26-year-old could certainly play his club football at a higher level. As in the match against the Philippines, the North Koreans enjoyed much of the possession, and only some clumsy build-up play prevented them from extending their lead. Tajikistan created absolutely nothing of note, and at half-time North Korea had an ultra-comfortable 1-0 lead. The second half began in similar style, with North Korea remaining easily on top, despite never really impressing with their attacking play. This was, it has to be said, mostly down to the sheer woefulness of Tajikistan, who battled hard at the back, but failed to gain any sort of meaningful possession. A scuffed long-range shot was all the Tajiks could muster, as North Korea continued to dominate the match. Despite their dominance, North Korea frustrated with sloppy passing and wasteful finishing. Finally, with just five minutes left to play, Jang Kuk Chol turned in the box and lashed the ball into roof of the Tajikistan net to finish the match off. Some credit must be given to Tajikistan for keeping the score down, but there was only ever going to be one winner in Kathmandu today. At full-time, it was 2-0 to North Korea, with the scorers being Pak Nam Chol and Jang Kuk Chol, exactly the same as in the match against the Philippines. So North Korea are still the Unofficial Football World Champions.
But the challenges come thick and fast as the AFC Challenge Cup continues. The next title match is on Tuesday, 13 March, with North Korea facing India. The Blue Tigers have never played in a UFWC title match before.
We'll have coverage of the match right here, and on our Twitter feed (@UFWC_Football).