A hat-trick from Kye Tam saw DPR Korea qualify for the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 from Group D with a game to spare afterTuesday’s 4-1 win over Thailand, which eliminated the Southeast Asians.
Midfielder Kye had returned from a suspension to make his first start of the tournament and he gave DPR Korea the lead from the spot just before half-time.
The same player then added two more goals after the hour-mark before Hassawat Nopnate’s reply from Thailand gave a glimmer of hope.
Hope that was extinguished with 10 minutes remaining by substitute Ri Kang-guk’s goal that capped off an impressive performance by the defending champions who will meet fellow quarter-finalists Uzbekistan – who defeated Yemen 1-0 in the day’s earlier game – on Friday to determine the Group D winners.
A short but violent downpour preceded kick-off at GMC Stadium, and the tie almost began as dramatically as the earlier rain when Kim Hwi-hwang went through on goal and slotted home within the first minute; only to see his goal disallowed for a handball.
Yun Jong-su’s side then went close again on 17 minutes as Sin Kwang-sok challenged Thailand ‘keeper Wutthipong Thiangthae for the ball from Won U-song’s cross and Kye looped a header narrowly over from the resulting loose ball.
Kim then hooked a shot on the turn wide of Wutthipong’s right-hand post three minutes later as DPR Korea tightened their hold on the game’s opening spell.
The game became more even as Thailand responded to the pressure and Arnon Prasongporn was a whisker away from heading home Nititorn Sripraman’s right-wing cross with eight minutes of the half remaining.
But just as the Thais looked to have reasserted themselves, DPR Korea were awarded a penalty as Songwut Kraikruan brought down Yun Min inside the box and Kye coolly converted.
DPR Korean began the second half strongly and Yun flashed a cross-cum-shot across goal on 50 minutes that narrowly evaded attackers, defenders and the far post alike.
And Sin should have done better five minutes later but after the ball fell to him 8 yards out he could only scuff his shot into the arms of Wutthipong.
The holders were not to be denied though and on 63 minutes they got their second as Kim’s cross from the right was met by Kye who drilled past the flat-footed Wutthipong.
The midfielder had to wait just a further five minutes to complete his treble, though, as Yun’s cross was missed by Paek Kwang-min but steered home by Kye at the back post.
Thailand responded immediately to going 3-0 down and pulled one back through Hassawat after DPR Korea failed to clear their lines from a corner and he leapt upon a loose ball to volley into the roof of the net.
Kye went close to a stunning fourth of the night for him and DPR Korea but saw his sublime effort from distance rebound of Wutthipong’s left-hand post and away to safety.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, DPR Korea did make it 4-1 with a pair of second-half substitutes combining.
Kung Jin-song tricked his way past Natthapong Nakpitak before crossing for Ri to finish from close range to secure a comfortable win.
DPR Korea coach Yun Jong-su: “Today we played very well. For both teams the second match was very important because if we lost today our chances for the next round would be less. I’m very happy with my boys but we still have more matches to go and we have to win them. In the beginning we tried to attack the right side of the Thai team but it was not working out so I decided to change things and replace Won U-song with Paek Kwang-min. Kye Tam is one of the best players in our team. He’s good in defence and offence. Today he showed his influence and I’m very happy with him.”
Thailand coach Chaiyong Khumpiam: “We could not beat DPR Korea because they were too strong. We prepared the team well for this tournament. We are on the top of ASEAN football but it’s more difficult at the top level of Asian competition. ”
This was an official Press Release provided by the Asian Football Confederation