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North Korea Will Host 2026 World Cup Soccer Match

On October 15, 2019, during the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian qualifier match between South Korea and North Korea at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, South Korean Son Heung-min is seen sprinting ahead of North Korean Han Kwang-sung. (Photo provided by the Korea Football Association)

North Korea will host the first national football match in four years.

According to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website on the 31st, the 2026 World Cup Asian second-round qualifier match between North Korea and Japan will take place at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang at 5 p.m. on March 26.

Considering that the location or time of the match between Syria and Myanmar scheduled to be held on the same day  (Syria-home), and the match between North Korea and Syria scheduled for June 6 (North Korea-home) have not yet been specified, it appears that Pyongyang has been confirmed as the venue for the March 26 match.

If the match proceeds at Kim Il Sung Stadium as announced by the AFC, it will be the first A-match home game North Korea has hosted in over four years. The most recent A-match home game was the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian second-round qualifier match against South Korea, which was held at Kim Il Sung Stadium on October 15, 2019.

At that time, North Korea hosted the match without spectators, leaving Kim Il-sung Stadium, which can accommodate over 40,000 people, empty. The game sparked controversy as a ‘blackout match’ that was not fitting for the 21st century, as it was not broadcast live and even the local internet situation was poor.

North Korea, which played consecutive away games against Turkmenistan and Lebanon in November 2019, declared a mid-term withdrawal due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and did not participate on the international stage for a while.

North Korea returned to the international stage through the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in September last year, and the A national team participated in this North-Central America World Cup qualifier.

North Korea was assigned a home match for the first round of the World Cup second round qualifier against Syria on November 16 last year, but played the match in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In the away second round against Myanmar on the 21st of the same month, they won 6-1, earning three points and ranking second in Group B after Japan (with six points).

North Korea and Japan will play the third round at the Tokyo National Stadium on March 21, before the match in Pyongyang. They will play two consecutive matches against each other in March.

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