Korea DPR will return to the FIFA World Cup™ next year for the first time since 1966. Kim Jong Hun's side sealed their second trip to the global finals with a goalless draw in Saudi Arabia, who finished third in Group 2 and will now go into an Asian Zone play-off from which the winners will face New Zealand for a place at South Africa 2010.
The Saudis' opponents will be Bahrain, who beat Uzbekistan 1-0 at home to claim third place in Group 1. However, there was agony for Iran, whose hopes of a fourth FIFA World Cup appearance ended in a 1-1 draw with the already-qualified Korea Republic.
Matchday 10 results
17 June 2009
Group 1: Australia 2-1 Japan; Bahrain 1-0 Uzbekistan
Group 2: Korea Republic 1-1 Iran; Saudi Arabia 0-0 Korea DPR
Game of the day
Saudi Arabia 0-0 Korea DPR
Requiring victory to progress, Saudi Arabia took the game to their opponents from the outset, and Yasser Al Qhatani and Naif Hazazi constantly threatened the visitors' goal throughout the opening half. The former had one great chance to break the deadlock, but Ri Myong-Guk produced an excellent save to deny him. The North Koreans defended resolutely and looked dangerous on the counter-attack and, even after they had Kim Yong Jun sent off late on, Kim Kum Il spurned an opportunity to snatch them three points. It did not matter. The final whistle sounded moments later to confirm Korea DPR's presence at South Africa 2010.
Surprise of the day
Korea Republic 1 -1 Iran
Masoud Shojaei (51'), Park Ji Sung (81')
Three points is what Iran knew they needed, but they underperformed during a nervy opening half. However, they took the lead six minutes after the restart when goalkeeper Lee Won-Jaei's clearance bounced off Masoud Shojaei's legs and into the net. The goals stirred Korea Republic to life and after Park Chu-Young missed two chances, Park Ji-Sung cut into the area following a one-two with Kim Jung-Woo to equalise nine minutes from time.
The other games
Bahrain 1-0 Uzbekistan
Mahmood Abdulrahman (74')
Bahrain edged Uzbekistan 1-0 in their first Group 1 meeting, and they repeated the feat to keep their FIFA World Cup dream alive. It took them until 16 minutes from time to score the all-important goal, which came courtesy of a trademark free-kick from Mahmood Abdulrahman.
Australia 2-1 Japan
Marcus Tulio Tanaka (40'), Tim Cahill (59', 77')
Tim Cahill scored two second-half goals to inspire Australia to a comeback victory over Japan at Germany 2006, and the Everton player did exactly the same today to ensure his side a first-placed finish in Group 1. Marcus Tulio Tanaka headed the visitors in front five minutes before break, before Cahill equalised 14 minutes into the second half and then volleyed home the winner from Nick Carle's corner.
Player of the day
Korea DPR's draw was indebted to Ri Myong-Guk, who produced decisive saves throughout to keep the Saudis at bay.
The numbers game
1 - Tanaka was the first player to score past Mark Schwarzer during the entire final group stage of Asian qualifying, while Japan's 2-1 loss was their only defeat in all eight games.
What they said
"We came here to get the three points, but we played too conservatively after the first goal. Our defensive line played too deep and the Koreans took advantage of it," Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi.