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MD4 Preview - Group H: Pyongyang tie centre of attention

Kuala Lumpur: DPR Korea against Korea Republic will dominate the headlines when they face each other in Group H of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Tuesday.

It will be the first meeting between the two on DPR Korea soil in nearly 30 years. The other Group H match will see Sri Lanka hosting Lebanon in Colombo.

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It will be a clash between the top two teams in the group, with Korea Republic only ahead on goal difference and both teams enjoying a perfect record after two wins each.

The two have met in FIFA World Cup qualifying before - four times in fact for South Africa 2010 but at neutral venues - as both made the Finals.

DPR Korea should be well rested, having not been in action on Thursday, and they will be highly motivated to register a third win after defeating Lebanon 2-0 at home and Sri Lanka 1-0 away on Matchdays One and Two respectively.

They can expect to be tested though as Korea Republic - seeking a 10th consecutive appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals and 11th overall - have been in top form throughout the Asian Qualifiers.

A potentially tough assignment against Turkmenistan was safely negotiated when Paulo Bento's side scored a 2-0 win in Ashgabat last month, before Korea Republic turned on the style on Thursday, defeating Sri Lanka 8-0 at home.

It was the perfect morale booster ahead of what will surely be a tricky assignment in Pyongyang.

Both teams have their talismen, with Han Kwang-song, on loan at Italian giants Juventus, set to spearhead DPR Korea and Son Heung-min, a star with English club Tottenham Hotspur, leading Korea Republic.

Kim Il-Sung Stadium (Pyongyang)
Kick-off: 1730 (UTC +9)


Sri Lanka desperately need points following three defeats in a row, while Lebanon will be confident of adding to their haul after edging Turkmenistan 2-1 on Thursday.

Nizam Packeer Ali's Sri Lanka, despite having lost to Turkmenistan and DPR Korea in September, had more than held their own but duly came unstuck against a rampant Korea Republic side on Thursday.

The South Asians simply had no answer to Korea Republic's quality and they will be striving for a more compact performance against Lebanon at the Colombo Racecourse Stadium on Tuesday.

It could, however, be another tough day at the office for Sri Lanka as Lebanon will be on a high after edging Turkmenistan 2-1 on Thursday.

With Korea Republic and DPR Korea looking set to dominate the group, the three points they earned against Turkmenistan may well prove crucial for Lebanon as - even if they miss out on advancing to the next stage of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 may well still be within reach.

Colombo Racecourse Stadium (Colombo)
Kick-off: 1930 (UTC +5.30)

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