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2012 AFC Challenge Cup: North Korea retain title!

In football sometimes history does repeat itself and it happened this afternoon at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu. Defending champions North Korea retained the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup title with a 2-1 victory against last time runners-up Turkmenistan...

In football sometimes history does repeat itself and it happened yesterday at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu. Defending champions North Korea retained the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup title with a 2-1 victory against last time runners-up Turkmenistan to qualify as the first team for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

In the earlier third-place playoff match surprise package the Philippines beat Palestine in a seven goal thriller 4-3 to finish third, a huge success for the Southeast Asian nation.

Final: Turkmenistan 1-2 (1-1) North Korea

The final got of to a great start for Turkmenistan, who took a 2nd minute lead when captain Berdy Shamuradov burst through on goal and smashed an unstoppable drive past North Korea goalkeeper Myong-Suk Ri. Interestingly Shamuradov had also scored Turkmenistan’s first goal in the 2010 finals.

The North Koreans had more from the match, but the Turkmen defence often held their ground in the first session though conceding the equaliser in the 35th minute when Nam-Chol Pak’s cross from the right met an unmarked Il-Gwan Jong, whose header went in past Turkmen keeper Rahmanberdi Alyhanov into the net.

Substitute Arslanmyrat Ammanov rattled the North Korean crossbar with a powerful 67th minute free-kick, but the climax was still to come. Turkmenistan was handed the golden opportunity to win the match in the 83rd minute then Ammanov was brought down in the box by Song-Hyok Jang, but Shamuradov would go on to miss the penalty; while at the other end only a couple of minutes later David Sakisov brought down Kwang-Ryong Park. This time Song-Hyok Jang, who had committed the earlier foul at the other, would step-up and score for North Korea.

It ended 2-1 for North Korea. Once more penalties decided the fate of a final between these two side, once more the East Asians would lift the title and qualify for the AFC Asian Cup.

Published with permission from Arunava Chaudhuri.

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