KUALA LUMPUR, October 2, 2017 - The third time is certainly not the charm for Malaysia as their clash against DPR Korea in the AFC 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers in Pyongyang was postponed yet again – for the third time.
With the Malaysian team already eager to leave for Pyongyang for the 5 October date, came the travel advisory from the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry restricting travel to the ultra-reserved nation.
The match between DPR Korea and Malaysia had earlier been postponed for the first time on 28 March before a second deferment on 8 June.
“The Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued the travel ban (on 28 Sept 2017) restricting Malaysian citizens from making the trip to the north of the Korean peninsula,” read the statement from the Malaysian Foreign Affairs
“There’s tension in the region following DPR Korea’s continued missile testing. The Malaysian government will evaluate the travel advisory once things in the region settle down.”
Following the statement from the Malaysian government, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)n confirmed the travel ban and to postpone the game.
“Following this new development, the AFC has decided to postpone the Group B qualifying match of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup (which has been scheduled for 5 October). The AFC will refer this issue to the appropriate committee and will make an announcement on the status of this game.”
The DPR Korea-Malaysia tie was first postponed in March following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam - the half brother of DPR Korea leader Kim Jong-un at KLIA 2 on 13 February.
Then in May, the AFC felt that the situation in the Korean Peninsula was not safe and as such, postponed the game that was supposed to take place in June.
But following Lebanon’s game against DPR Korea in an AFC 2018 Asian Cup qualifying match earlier this month that was incident-free in Pyongyang, the AFC decided to give the green light for the DPR Korea-Malaysia tie to take place in October.
The DPR Korea government had given the assurance to the Malaysian team that travelling to Pyongyang will not have any safety concern.
They had also issued a clearance to allow Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the President of the FAM, to fly directly to Pyongyang instead of having to go through Beijing, China.