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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Malaysia could still play in North Korea, final decision in May - AFC

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and Stanley Bernard discuss the state of Malaysia ahead of their upcoming Asian Cup qualifiers.
Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts ask if Malaysia were right to request a neutral venue for their fixture with North Korea.

There is still a possibility that Pyongyang will host Malaysia's 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea in June, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

A statement released on Thursday said that a final decision on whether the third-round game would be played in the North Korean capital, or at neutral venue, will be made early next month.

If political tensions between the nations ease, Pyongyang could still stage the match. In the meantime, AFC will investigate possible neutral venues.

"Following the deadline on April 14, 2017 for DPR Korea to submit a neutral venue proposal in the event their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 final round qualifier against Malaysia is not playable in Pyongyang, the AFC will now start discussions with potential Member Associations who can host the match," the statement said.

"The final decision on whether the match will be played at a neutral venue will be made on May 8, 2017, taking into consideration the political situation between the two countries, especially with regard to the travel ban imposed by the Malaysian Government, which led to the postponement of the match originally scheduled for March 28, 2017.

"The AFC is currently awaiting the latest information from the Football Association of Malaysia if the travel ban is still in force or has been lifted."

The match was originally scheduled for March 28 before being postponed. It was called off as diplomatic relations between the nations soured in the wake of the sudden death at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13 of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

It is unclear who Malaysia's national coach will be for the game, following the withdrawal of interest of former Johor Darul Ta'zim boss Mario Gomez, due to financial reasons.

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