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Maldives Holds S. Korea to Scoreless Draw in World Cup Football Qualifying

VOA Sports - 31 Mar 2004

The Maldives national football (soccer) team has held 2002 semifinalist South Korea to a scoreless draw in a World Cup Asian region qualifying match in Male. Also Wednesday, Japan beat Singapore, 2-1, to remain unbeaten in World Cup qualifying. Kyrgyzstan and Syria played to a 1-1 draw while Bahrain and Tajikistan played to a scoreless draw.

The United Arab Emirates played North Korea to a 0-0 tie while Iran defeated Laos, 7-0. Also today, Lebanon defeated Vietnam, 2-0.

South Korea's Portuguese-born coach blamed what he called the scorching heat for his team's poor performance. Humberto Coelho said that his team was not prepared for the weather conditions it encountered in the Maldives. The result was a shock for South Korea, which has played in every World Cup since 1986.

Meanwhile South Korea's 2002 co-host Japan braved steamy conditions in Singapore to win 2-1. Naohiro Takahara opened the scoring in the 33rd minute and Toshiya Fujita added another goal late in the game. Japan leads Group-three with six points.

In Dushanbe, Tajikistan's goal keeper Asleddin Khabibulayev proved to be his country's hero by stopping two penalty shots in the game with Bahrain. Both teams now have four points in the Group 6 standings with equal goal difference. Lebanon got two late goals in the 81st and 87th minutes to beat Vietnam, 2-0.

In other matches it was:

Saudi Arabia 1 Sri Lanka 0
Uzbekistan 1 Taiwan 0
Oman 5 India 1
Turkmenistan 3 Indonesia 1
Kuwait 2 Malaysia 0
China 1 Hong Kong 0
Palestine 1 Iraq 1
Thailand 3 Yemen 0

The Asian qualifying is divided into eight groups of four teams each. Only the group winners advance to the next round.

... Payvand News - 4/1/04 ... --

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