Pyongyang: DPR Korea dropped 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifying points for the first time on Thursday when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by the Philippines.
The result leaves the Koreans still occupying top spot in Group H however, some three points ahead of second-placed Philippines and Uzbekistan, who play Bahrain later tonight, in third with six points.
Kim Chang-bok’s DPR Korea side had won all three of their previous fixtures, but failed to find a way past a resolute Philippines defence well marshalled by Walsall goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
The result, meanwhile, represents a welcome return to form for the Azkals who had been heavily beaten at home by a rampant Uzbekistan side last time out.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.
October 13: DPR Korea v Yemen
November 12: Philippines v Bahrain
Asian Football Confederation Website