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A must-win match for Saudi Arabia
By Abdullah Al-Hariri
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 02 - 2009

Saudi Arabia resumes on Wednesday its campaign toward a fifth World Cup appearance when it plays North Korea in the Asian qualifiers at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang.
The match will be a tough one for Saudis who lost their last match 2-0 against South Korea on home soil.
With two home matches remaining, Saudis have a tough time against North Korea, South Korea and Iran away. The defeat against South Korea put Saudi Arabia fourth in Group B on four points, three points behind the leader South Korea.
Meanwhile, North Korea comes third surpassing Saudi Arabia on goal difference.
A defeat against North Korea in Wednesday's clash may weaken the Saudi team hopes.
Saudis will be looking for a must win irrespective of Iran and South Korea result.
Iran is hosting South Korea in Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
The 23-player squad of Saudi Arabia arrived in Pyongyang Sunday after a short training camp in Sendai in Japan.
During its camp, Saudi Arabia played a friendly match against Thailand and won 2-1, thanks to second half goals from Rayan Bilal and Sultan Al-Nomari.
Striker Malek Al-Hawsawi and defender Mansour Al-Harbi will be out of Nasser Al-Johar's final squad.
Al-Hawsawi failed to join Japan camp after his brother passed away last week while Al-Harbi also was forced to return home to attend the funeral of his father.
The Saudi team received a morale boost after the medical team confirmed that striker Yasser Al-Qahtani will be ready for the clash.
Al-Qahtani who suffered a thigh injury shortly after he joined the squad had some special session alongside defender Osama Al-Hawsawi to prepare them for the match.
Al-Ittihad's captain Mohammed Noor was recalled for the clash while Khaled Aziz will miss due to an injury during GCC Gulf cup.
Al-Johar also will be missing the services of the striker Naif Hazazi after he was sent off against South Korea.
Al-Johar will have the services of Al-Ahli striker Hassan Al-Rahib and Al-Nasr's Rayan Bilal and Saudi Premier League top scorer Nasser Al-Shamarani of Al-Shabab. The meeting is the seventh in the two sides' history.
Saudi Arabia won three of its matches while Korea won just one and drew two.
Saudi Arabia and North Korea met for the first time in Asian Games that was held in India in 1982 where they drew 2-2 while the last meeting was in 2007 when they also drew 1-1 in a friendly game held in Malaysia ahead of the AFC Asian Cup.
In the other two qualifying matches in Group A, Japan takes on Australia and Uzbekistan meets Bahrain. __


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