MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea have made world headlines for sporting rather than political or military reasons by becoming the sixth side to book their place at next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.
After Iran had drawn with South Korea earlier in the day, North Korea only needed a point against the Saudis in Riyadh on Wednesday evening to join South Korea as the second qualifier from Asia's Group B.
Despite constant pressure from the Saudis, a disciplined and pragmatic display by the North saw them hold their opponents to a 0-0 draw and get the necessary point.
"We battled to qualify for the World Cup finals," coach Kim Jong-Hun said. "It was so hot in Saudi Arabia after the long journey from Korea, but the belief in the ability of the players snatched the ticket to South Africa."
North Korea's only previous appearance at the World Cup came in 1966, when the tournament was hosted by England. Based in the northern city of Middleborough, the Koreans won over the locals and beat Italy 1-0 on their way to a last eight clash with Portugal, which they lost 5-3 despite taking a 3-0 lead.
Bookmakers have put North Korea at 750-1 to win the World Cup.
The six teams to qualify for the 2010 World Cup so far are hosts South Africa, the Netherlands, South Korea, North Korea, Australia and Japan.