North Korea qualifies for 2010 World Cup for the 1st times since 1966

North Korea qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals for the first time since 1966 by battling to a 0-0 draw away to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night.

The point captured in searing temperatures in Riyadh, saw the Koreans edge into second place in Asian qualifying Group 2 to finish ahead of Saudi Arabia on goal difference and seal their place in the finals.

It means both group winners South Korea, who co-hosted the World Cup with Japan in 2002, and neighbors North Korea will play in the 2010 showpiece in South Africa.

North Korea coach Kim Yong-Jun Kim had nothing but praise for his players after the final whistle.

"We focused on the defending as we had come under a lot of pressure from the Saudis and I think our preparation for the game was one factor that earned the victory tonight," the North Korean boss told FIFA's official Web site.

"We monitored the Saudi team from the beginning of our campaign and I noticed that they have a problem in finding good strikers. We battled to qualify for the World Cup finals and I would like to thank my players for the great performance that they showed during the whole match," added Kim.

"It was so hot in Saudi Arabia and as you know the journey from Korea was long but our belief in the ability of the players snatched the ticket to South Africa," Kim stated.

The booking of North Korea's ticket to the finale will see the reclusive nation compete against the world's best despite growing international political concern regarding Pyongyang's testing of a nuclear bomb recently.

Their form in the tournament is one of upsetting the odds after they Italy 43 years ago en route to the quarter-finals.

The home draw sees Saudi Arabia finish in third place to go into the playoffs where they will face Bahrain. The winners will play New Zealand for a place in the finals, while Iran miss out after finishing fourth in Group 2.

source :

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