Qualifiers - Group G: Winning start for DPR Korea, Hong Kong & Singapore share points
Ulaanbaatar: A first half goal ensured DPR Korea an opening day 1-0 win over Mongolia, while Hong Kong and Singapore played to a 1-1 draw on Matchday One of the AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 Qualifiers at the MFF Stadium on Friday.
DPR KOREA 1-0 MONGOLIA
The all-East Asian affair began on a high note as both sides pulled out all the stops for an early advantage.
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The match saw end to end action with both teams coming close with DPR Korea's Kim Kum-chol shooting wide in the 14th minute, before Batbayar Khash-Erdene narrowly missed seconds later.
DPR Korea began to found their footing and slowly gained control of the match, and were rewarded for their persistence in the 37th minute when Jong Kum-song rose highest to head home Ri Chung-gyu's corner to break the deadlock.
Mongolia were forced to play defensively against a high-pressing Korean side, and hardly made their way into the final third, only making long-range efforts that 'keeper Kang Ju-hyok easily dealt with.
Sanchir Anand was definitely the busier custodian, making save after save to keep Mongolia's deficit at one goal, and almost found the equaliser when substitute Otgonbaatar Odbayar found space to unleash a strike, but it struck the crossbar in the 85th minute.
HONG KONG 1-1 SINGAPORE
The result is a positive start for Singapore, compared to their 2018 qualifying campaign, where they suffered a 2-0 loss to Myanmar, while it was a similar result for Hong Kong, who had drawn with DPR Korea two years ago in their opening match.
The match between Hong Kong and Singapore was locked in a stalemate as both sides showed serious intent in making a good start, but the first half remained goalless despite their best attempts.
The two sides were definitely equal in many ways but it was Hong Kong who drew first blood, with Tsui Wang Kit finding the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
But the East Asians' celebrations only lasted for a minute as Lionel Tan found the equaliser just seconds after the restart.
Hong Kong head coach Juan Carlos Cuesta then reinforced his side's offensive capabilities by bringing in Cheng Siu Kwan in the 65th minute, but Singapore held on strongly as the teams shared the points.
Hong Kong will go up against Mongolia next, while Singapore play DPR Korea on Saturday.
Photos: Mongolian Football Federation
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