North Korea defeated Tajikistan 1-0 to win the Intercontinental Cup on Friday at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad. The Koreans emerged as victorious on the virtue of a lone goal scored in the 71st minute by Pak Hyon Il.
Coming in as a substitute, Il found the back of nets minutes after taking the field. Having beaten the same opponent in the league stage with an identical margin, Koreans started the match with a slight upper hand over Tajikistan.
The match remained goalless after first half’s play. However, the winners had come closest to score a goal in the 20th minute through Jong Il Gwan. But the defence of the middle-eastern team somehow kept the scoresheet on equal terms as they headed for the tunnel.
After defeating India and Syria, North Korea and Tajikistan, who were the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament, qualified for the final. While India is at 101st position in the FIFA rankings, Syria, at 85th, was the highest-ranked team in this second edition of Intercontinental Cup.
The champions North Korea, which is ranked at 122, took home a hefty amount of USD 50,000, while the 120th ranked Tajikistan football team got richer by USD 25,000.
India bowed out of the tournament after losing two consecutive games against Tajikistan and North Korea. The Sunil Chhetri-led side lost the first game, which was also the tournament opener, to Tajikistan 2-4. The men in blue succumbed to defeat in the next match against North Kore with a scoreline of 2-5.
Having conceded nine goals against the two lowest-ranked sides, India was not considered any chance against Syria. However, they revived their fate to produce the most spirited performance of the tournament against Syria. The Igor Stimac-coached side had attained an early lead with a header from Narender Gahlot but could not hold on to it. The Syrians scored the equalizer to conclude the match on equal footing with a scoreline of 1-1.