Kathmandu: Tournament favourites DPR Korea easily disposed off Palestine 2-0 in the second semi-final of the AFC Challenge Cup on Friday after Turkmenistan had already booked a final berth as well.
Pak Kwang-ryong's brace, with goals in the 41st minute and the 69th minute, gave the defending champions an easy win against Group A runners-up Palestine. DPR Korea's defence was strong once again too, as they maintained a perfect record of scoring 10 goals in 4 matches.
It was pretty dull in the opening ten minutes or so, as both teams started cautiously, testing each other and probing for weaknesses. The only chance during this time came for the Koreans but Pak Kwang-ryong could not properly direct his header, which flew high and wide over the bar.
A surprising move by Yun Jong-su, the DPR Korea coach, saw Jang Kuk-chol replacing striker Jang Myong-il in just the 16th minute of the match. This did little, however, to alter the pattern of the match and it was only in the 25th minute that the defending champions had another goal-scoring chance, with Jang heading Pak Nam-chol's cross wide before Pak himself saw his long range piledriver go just wide of the left post.
Finally the Koreans piled on concentrated pressure and took charge of the game.
The goal came just three minutes from the break, and the Chollima got their deserved lead as Pak picked up the rebound that had come to him off the crossbar and made no mistake to bury the shot at the back of the net.
The second half saw the Koreans in cruise control. In the 67th minute, it was Pak Nam-chol whose well-taken corner was headed goalwards by An Yong-hak, only to be cleared off the line by a Palestine defence under all kinds of pressure.
Finally the decisive second goal which all but sealed the tie came just two minutes later from the always-available Pak Kwang-ryong, as he took advantage of shambolic defending by the Lions and dodged the onrushing goalie with gusto and gladly put the ball into the empty net to score his and his team's second of the day, to put them through to the finale against the Turks.