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(LEAD) S. Korea will remain second seed despite forfeit victory over Kuwait

All News 17:05 April 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details of forfeit victory in 4th para, photo)

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will remain a second seed in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite the world football governing body's ruling that the country should be awarded a forfeit victory for their unplayed qualifier against Kuwait last month.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee announced on Wednesday (local time) that Kuwait have forfeited their Group G matches against South Korea and Laos in the second round Asian qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia. Kuwait have been suspended by FIFA and unable to play since October because of government interference in its football association.

South Korea men's national football team, led by head coach Uli Stielike, were supposed to face Kuwait at home on March 29.

FIFA's decision means that South Korea will be awarded a 3-0 win over Kuwait and get additional points for the April rankings. The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Thursday this is the first time that South Korean men's football team have collected a forfeit win since they were initiated in 1948. However, they will not see their seed for the final round changed.

The Taeguk Warriors have clinched the spot in the final round of Asian qualifiers regardless of the Kuwait match after marking seven straight victories. The lineup for the final round, where 12 countries compete, was completed on March 29.

For the final round regional qualification, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will seed the 12 qualifiers based on their latest FIFA rankings that will be announced later Thursday. The region's top two ranked nations will receive the first seeds and will be placed in different groups, and the next two Asian countries in the FIFA rankings will get the second seeds and so forth.

FIFA's ranking points calculator on its website showed South Korea will get 588 points for the April ranking after nine points are to be added from the forfeited Kuwait match. However, it will still be short of claiming the top seeds from Iran (672) and Australia (601). South Korea will remain a second seed, along with Japan (577).

"Through the AFC, we asked FIFA to make a quick decision on the Kuwait match," an official from the KFA said on condition of anonymity. "We thought about every possible scenario but found out that it will be difficult for us to get a top seed even if we are awarded a forfeit victory."

The FIFA rankings are based on the average points that a team accumulates over a four-year period. The ranking points in each match are determined by its result, its value and the relative strength of the opponent and their confederation. The system also has a yearly basis depreciation for the value of matches.

The draw for the final round is slated for next Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, where 12 countries will be divided into two groups of six. The six teams in each group will play each other on a home and away basis starting in September, with the top two sides from each group booking their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The two third-placed teams will face each other over two legs, and the winner will take on the fourth-placed team from the fifth round of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifiers in a two-legged inter-confederation playoff for a chance to book their ticket to the World Cup.


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