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Goa: Coach Yun Jong-su insists DPR Korea are getting better as the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 progresses after the defending champions squeezed past Oman 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Monday’s quarter-final to set up a semi-final date with the Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday.

Yun Min missed a first-half penalty for the East Asians at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium before Muadh Al Jahdhami gave Oman the lead with 11 minutes remaining only for captain Kim Pom-hyok to head home the equaliser five minutes later and, with no extra-time at AFC U-16 level, send the match to penalties.

With Oman trailing 3-2 in the shootout Al Jahdhami hit the woodwork to allow Kim to fire his side into the last four as DPR Korea also confirmed their passage to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India as one of the four highest-placed teams.

“Today was very tough but I think we were well prepared and played better compared to the last three matches,” said Yun Jong-su, who had earlier made two first-half substitutions.

“The changes were tactical. I expected more from Kim Hwi-hwang but he was not playing to my expectations so I decided to bring him off.

“We didn’t want them to score but when we conceded we had to change our strategy and put the emphasis on attack to find the equaliser.”

DPR Korea began their continental campaign with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Yemen before turning on the style to dismantle Thailand 4-1 and progress to the knockout phase with a game to spare.

But a 3-1 reversal at the hands of Uzbekistan on Matchday Three meant they had to settle for the runner-up spot in Group D ahead of the crucial quarter-final clash.

“We have qualified for the World Cup but this AFC tournament is different from the World Cup and we want to now try and win it,” added Yun.

“This is different from the last AFC U-16 Championship [in 2014] because the teams are much stronger. But we will now prepare to play two more games.”

REPORT: Oman 1-1 (2-4 pens) DPR Korea

Two-time champions Oman had been looking to reach their first semi-final since last winning the tournament back in 2000.

After running out 3-0 victors in their Group C opener against Malaysia, the West Asians then played out back-to-back draws with Korea Republic and Iraq to progress as group winners.

But a meeting with the holders in the last eight proved too big an obstacle to overcome as Yaqoub Al Sabahi’s side were unsuccessful in their bid to book a return ticket to India for next year’s U-17 World Cup.

“I want to thank my players for the effort they put in this tournament. We tried to reach the World Cup but we didn’t take our chances,” said Al Sabahi.

“It was a very tough game and DPR Korea always play the long ball, which we are not used to. We lacked the experience after taking the lead and they scored in the last six minutes. If you don’t pay attention things can change in just one second.

“But I feel my players should also be happy. We won the group ahead of Korea Republic and Iraq. In the end there can only be one winner, but their futures should be bright.”

Photo: AFC