North Korean's April 25 SC put one foot into the AFC Cup Final

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Photo: AFC
North Korean side, April 25 Sports Club played out a 2-2 draw away against Hanoi FC in their AFC Cup Semifinal. The draw makes them firm favourites for the second leg in Pyongyang.

April 25 in the driving seat

April 25 may have only come away from Hanoi with a 2-2 draw, but as the away side in a two-legged semi-final tie, that goes down as a good result.

Especially as this Hanoi side have been exceptional so far in the tournament.

The bad news for Hanoi though, is not many teams go to Pyongyang and get something. I sound like Sky Sports sprouting nonsense, but I am sure an away day in Pyongyang tops going to Stoke on a wet and windy Tuesday night.

This has happened quite often to April 25, who never seem to travel very well, unless they're far superior to their opponent. They often only draw or lose away, but then get resounding wins in the home tie. No doubt there will be a huge crowd there for this one, but if they are interested or prodded in the general direction of the stadium is anyone's guess.

April 25 SC often get far in this tournament due to being the strongest entrant from the East Asian sub-region. Their opponents have often come from Taiwan, Macau or Mongolia and this tournament they have faced sides from Hong Kong who has raised the level a little.

Ironically, that raising of the level may have helped April 25 take that extra step they need to put one foot in the final, due to having to put a bit more into beating the participants from Hong Kong instead of the cakewalk that is facing sides from Taiwan and Macau.

One thing that remains to impress me with April 25, is the number of world-class goals they bang in. They were under the cosh for large parts of the match in Hanoi, but they still managed to bang in a worldie from about 20 yards out to equalize. Every match, or highlights reel I see with them involved, I have seen them smash in goals from all sorts of crazy angles, or bang in shots from 20 to 25 yards out.

Whatever they're doing in shooting practice it is working. That kind of precision should help them in the next match when they face Hanoi knowing a win, or a 1-1 draw would send them to the final where they will face the winner of the tie between, Al-Jazeera from Jordan or Al-Ahed from Lebanon.

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