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(LEAD) S. Korea to play Thailand in football friendly

All Headlines 18:29 March 11, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES slug, headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with new friendly)

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea have scheduled a friendly football match against Thailand later this month in place of a postponed World Cup qualifier against a suspended opponent, officials said Friday.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said South Korea will travel to Bangkok on March 27. It was scheduled after the country's World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait, initially set for March 29, was postponed indefinitely.

Earlier in the day, the KFA said it'd be virtually impossible to rescheduled the match against Kuwait in the second Asian round of qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kuwait were punished last October after failing to amend the country's sports law to prevent government interference in the national football body. Last month, FIFA decided to discuss lifting sanctions on Kuwait in May, but the draw for the final qualification round will be held on April 12.

FIFA had informed the KFA that if the suspension on Kuwait wasn't lifted by Thursday, South Korea could schedule a friendly match.

The KFA had been trying to set up a friendly in lieu of Kuwait. Head coach Uli Stielike earlier said he hoped to use most of the overseas-based South Koreans in the last two qualifiers, so that those mostly confined to the bench on their clubs will be able to stay sharp.

In the FIFA International Match Day window late this month, countries can schedule up to two matches. If one nation has to travel to another continent, a one-way flight must not take more than five hours.

Both South Korea and Thailand have clinched spots in the final round of the Asian World Cup qualification, making them potential opponents in the next stage.

South Korea hold a substantial edge in head-to-head meetings with 30 wins, seven draws and nine losses, but haven't faced each other since 1998.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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