Pak Hyon Il second-half strike seals Intercontinental Cup for DPR Korea

Pak Hyon Il came on as a second-half substitute and fired DPR Korea to the Intercontinental Cup, beating Tajikistan 1-0 in the final.

DPR Korea edged Tajikistan 1-0 to win the 2019 edition of Intercontinental Cup.   -  AIFF Media

DPR Korea was crowned the Intercontinental Cup winner as it completed a 1-0 victory over Tajikistan in the final at the EKA Arena, Ahmedabad. It was a second-half strike from substitute Pak Hyon Il that was the difference and sealed the win for his team.

The first half began with DPR Korea dominating proceedings and enjoying more possession and chances. DPR Korea's skipper Jong Il Gwan went the closest to finding the net in the 20th minute but the score remained goalless at half-time.

Tajikistan started posing a few threats in the second half, the first of which came through Sheriddin Boboev, whose curling effort from 25 yards out in the 51st minute just went past the post.

Eight minutes later, Komron Tursonov showed some quick thinking to fashion a chance for his side but his shot was turned away past the post by DPR Korea keeper An Tae Song.

It was DPR Korea that continued to look more dangerous and finally made its dominance count as substitute Pak Hyon Il broke the deadlock in the 71st minute. Latching on to a pass inside the box from Gwan, Pak fired in a shot that deflected off a defender and looped over the keeper and into the net.

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Five minutes from time, Tajikistan had a golden chance to equalise, but was denied by the woodwork. A free-kick from the right found substitute Tokhir Maladustov's head but his effort hit the crossbar and went back into play, with the rebound going shot wide.

The Koreans saw out the game and won the Intercontinental Cup, winning a cash prize of $50,000 for the same. Runner-up Tajikistan got $25,000. DPR Korea skipper Jong Il Gwan was named the Hero of the Tournament for his three goals in the competition, as well as the match-winning assist in the final. He was awarded a sum of $7,500.

In the post-match press conference, DPR Korea head coach Yun Jong Su hailed the Hero Intercontinental Cup as a "beautiful tournament". He said, "We are grateful to AIFF for organising this beautiful tournament. The confidence of winning is always so positive. Despite the triumph, we need to work on certain areas. The beauty of the tournament was that we now also know our shortcomings."

Tajikistan head coach Usman Toshev stated that the result was a "big lesson" for his side ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers. He said, "We congratulate DPR Korea on the victory. Looking back, I feel we lacked the stamina. However, this was a big lesson for us ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers."

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