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North Korea befuddled by Asian Cup prize


Brief stories from the Asian Cup on Monday:

Souvenir for Pyongyang

North Korea may have exited at the Asian Cup group stage after three defeats, but they don’t leave Australia completely empty-handed. Following Sunday’s 2-1 reverse to China, organisers awarded a plaque to a bemused but seemingly delighted coach Jo Tong-Sop. As they shook hands and smiled for cameras, Jo was informed the prize was for North Korea having met the tournament’s ‘Don’t Delay, Play’ initiative — the objective being to have the ball active for 60 minutes in a match to cut down on time-wasting. It remains to be seen what North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un makes of the souvenir.

Red Ryan would be smash hit, says Al Habsi

Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi knows a thing or two about the Premier League, having played over 100 games for Wigan, and reckons Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan would be a smash hit in England. Liverpool target Ryan has impressed for the Socceroos at the Asian Cup and would be a perfect fit at Anfield, Al Habsi told local media. “He’s brilliant,” said Al Habsi. “He’s young, he can only improve and of course Liverpool is a big club and for him it would be a great chance to make it.”

Japan take no-nibbling approach

Perhaps mindful of being hit in the pocket again, Japan’s players will keep their hands to themselves when they face Jordan on Tuesday. Playmaker Keisuke Honda was slapped with a $5,000 fine for criticising the referee in Japan’s game against Palestine for whistling at the slightest contact. Defender Maya Yoshida said Japan were under strict orders from coach Javier Aguirre, telling reporters: “We will make sure we don’t touch. We have been told not to nibble at attackers in the penalty area.”


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