SKorea gains as NKorea World Cup qualifying results voided

SEOUL (AP) — South Korea moved atop its World Cup qualifying group on Thursday without kicking a ball after FIFA voided all results involving North Korea.

North Korea had collected eight points in Group H before withdrawing from the remaining qualifiers, scheduled in June, citing concerns over COVID-19.

FIFA’s ruling drops Turkmenistan, which beat North Korea 3-1 in November 2019, from first to third with six points, one behind South Korea and Lebanon. Sri Lanka remains pointless.

Only the eight group winners and four best second-place teams will progress to the third round, scheduled to start in September.

North Korea’s mid-May withdrawal will alter how those runners-up spots are ranked, according to the Asian Football Confederation.

“After the conclusion of all the matches in the Asian qualifiers, the results of the matches between the second-placed and the fifth-placed teams in Groups A to G would not be counted to ensure a balanced final comparison between all group runners-up,” the AFC said on Thursday.

Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Uzbekistan now occupy the top four places in the revised runner-up rankings above Bahrain, China, Tajikistan and Malaysia.

Qualification for the World Cup resumes on Friday when Japan hosts Myanmar in the first of 57 games remaining before the second round ends on June 15.

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