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(LEAD) S. Korea's World Cup qualifier vs. N. Korea pushed to Nov.

2018 World Cup Russia 23:03 June 05, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with AFC's announcement)

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- A World Cup qualifying match between South Korea and North Korea that would have taken place this week has been moved to November, the continental football governing body announced Friday.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in consultation with FIFA, unveiled new proposed dates for the regional World Cup qualifiers that have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the new calendar, matches that were scheduled for March will be played in October, and those set for June will take place in November.

In this file photo from Nov. 14, 2019, South Korean players (in white) try to block a free kick taken by Bassel Jradi of Lebanon during the teams' Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut. (Yonhap)

The Koreas have paired in Group H of the second round of the qualifying campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It began in September 2019, and South Korea have played four matches, while the rest -- North Korea, Turkmenistan, Lebanon and Sri Lanka -- have each played five matches.

South Korea had been scheduled to host Turkmenistan on March 26 and then face Sri Lanka in Colombo five days later. Those matches have been moved to Oct. 8 and 13.

The highly-anticipated all-Korea showdown would have been played on Thursday, with a South Korea-Lebanon match to follow next Tuesday. They will instead be played on Nov. 12 and 17.

The latest match fixtures will hinge upon how well the novel virus is contained in Asia in the coming months and whether travel restrictions are eased.

For countries that won't be able to host matches due to COVID-19, playing in a neutral site could be an option, an industry source told Yonhap News Agency on Friday.

There are eight groups of five nations in the second round. The eight group winners and the four-best runners-up will advance to the third round.

South Korea, coached by Paulo Bento, are in second place in Group H with eight points from two wins and two draws. Turkmenistan are leading the way with nine points. Lebanon and North Korea both have eight points each but trail South Korea in goal difference.

In this file photo from Oct. 10, 2019, South Korean players pose for photos before fans following their 8-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the teams' Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Hwaseong Sports Complex Main Stadium in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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