Pyongyang clash 'was like war'

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 18 Oct 2019

South Korea's footballers had no idea their World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang would be played in an empty stadium - a match Tottenham star Son Heung Min described as "very aggressive" and one official likened to warfare.

The game against North Korea ended 0-0 on Tuesday, with Fifa president Gianni Infantino one of just a handful of spectators at the match.

Until the very last minute, the South's team had no idea that even North Korean spectators would be absent.

"We expected 50,000 people to come pouring in once the door opened but they didn't come," said Korea Football Association vice-president Choi Young Il as the team arrived back at Incheon airport. "The gates never opened."

Choi asked a North Korean official about the absence of local fans, and the reply he got was: "Maybe they didn't want to see it."

Son, who captained the visitors, was taken aback by the Northerners' rough tactics. "The match was very aggressive to a degree that I think it's a huge achievement just to return safely without being injured," Son said.

Choi added he had never seen such aggression on the pitch before: "It was like war."

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