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North Korea wanted match delayed

NORTH Korea wanted the World Cup qualifier against South Korea delayed and moved to a neutral venue after claiming his players contracted food poisoning.

The match went ahead on Wednesday and South Korea won 1-0 on Kim Chi-woo's floating free-kick three minutes from time, lifting the 2002 World Cup semifinalists atop Group B in Asian qualifying with 11 points, one point ahead of North Korea.

The Seoul qualifier was overshadowed by North Korea's plans to fire a communications satellite into orbit.

While Wednesday's match was played in good spirit, the atmosphere was less genial off the field.

In the post-match press conference North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun refused to answer questions and instead gave a brief statement before leaving the room.

"This was a game that shouldn't have been played," he said. "Jong Tae Se and goalkeepers Ri Myung Guk and Kim Myong Gil were not in a condition to play. After training yesterday, and after eating at the hotel provided by Korea Republic authorities, they contracted diarrhea."

Kim Joo-sung, the chief of the Seoul-based Korean Football Association's international department told reporters that the condition of the three players led North Korea to request that the match be postponed and played on neutral soil.

"After the North raised the issue, we took the matter to the Asian Football Confederation and the FIFA," Kim said. "FIFA rejected the North's request and ordered the game be staged as scheduled."

Kim, the KFA official, said that a sports doctor had examined the North Korean players and found no serious problem. More detailed examinations, including blood tests, were refused.

"The food and beverages are provided by sponsors of the AFC. The KFA is not responsible for them," Kim said. "Also, the North Korean officials had inspected food beforehand. If it really had been food poisoning, there would have been more players with similar symptoms."


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