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S. Korea, Japan to revive regular friendlies starting in 2014: official
PAJU, South Korea, July 26 (Yonhap) -- Asian football rivals South Korea and Japan have agreed to revive their regularly scheduled friendly matches starting next year, the South's top football official said Friday.

   "We have agreed with the Japan Football Association to hold a friendly match sometime in October or November next year," Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), told reporters at the National Football Center here in Paju, north of Seoul.

   "We haven't settled on a specific date yet, but the two sides have agreed to hold a friendly match every year," Chung added.

   The two countries first held their regular match in Tokyo in September 1972, with the aim of trying to develop football for both countries. They played out a 2-2 draw in the first match.

   They met almost annually after that, except for years when they had to play in World Cup qualifiers, World Cup finals, the Asian Games or the Olympics.

   The series was put on hold after the 15th match in Nagasaki in July 1991. South Korea prevailed 1-0, improving its record to 10 wins, three losses and two draws.

   The two rivals didn't meet for a friendly again until 2000, when they played each other once each in Seoul and Tokyo. They also faced each other twice in 2003, also in Seoul and Tokyo, but those games didn't lead to any regularly scheduled matches.

   In 2010, they played a home-and-away series in Saitama and Seoul in May and October and met again in Sapporo in August 2011.

   The countries didn't meet for a friendly last year, following South Korea's 2-0 win over Japan for the bronze medal at the London Olympics.

   In the post-match celebration, South Korean player Park Jong-woo held up a sign that read, "Dokdo Is Our Territory."

   The message referred to South Korea's easternmost islets to which Japan has also laid claims. Dokdo has long been a source of diplomatic tension between the countries. Park was suspended by FIFA for two games for making a political statement and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) withheld his bronze medal until February this year.

   In 2013, both countries have played a tight international schedule, thanks to the Asian qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the East Asian Cup, currently underway in South Korea. Both have secured spots in the World Cup finals.

   According to Chung, the two sides settled on the October-November period for next year's friendly because it will fall after the World Cup.

   South Korea leads the all-time series with 40 wins, 13 losses and 22 ties. The rivals are scheduled to meet in their last East Asian Cup match at 8 p.m. on Sunday in Seoul.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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