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Japan-N. Korea World Cup game to stay in Pyongyang, JFA says

Japan’s World Cup qualifier against North Korea will be played in Pyongyang as planned later this month, the Japan Football Association said it had been told on Monday.

The first leg of their women’s qualifying playoff for the Paris Olympics was switched from the North Korean capital to neutral ground in Saudi Arabia last month.

The move came after the JFA had asked Asian officials to shift the game away from Pyongyang over a lack of operational transparency and a scarcity of flights, among other issues.

The JFA said it had been informed that the men’s game on March 26 would be played as scheduled at the 50,000-capacity Kim Il Sung Stadium.

The two teams are also set to face off at Tokyo’s National Stadium in a World Cup qualifier on March 21.

Japan have won their two qualifying games so far against Myanmar and Syria.

North Korea lost 1-0 to Syria on neutral ground in Saudi Arabia before thrashing Myanmar 6-1 in Yangon.

Japan and North Korea’s men’s teams most recently played each other at the 2017 East Asian Championship in Tokyo, with Japan winning 1-0.

The two teams last played in Pyongyang in November 2011 in a qualifier for the 2014 World Cup.

North Korea won 1-0 in front of a capacity crowd at the Kim Il Sung Stadium, although Japan went on to qualify for the tournament in Brazil while North Korea did not.

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