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FOOTBALL

With Kuwait out, Korea now one step closer to World Cup

The Korean men’s national football team has secured a berth in the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after the world football organization decided to punish Kuwait, which is in the same group as Korea.

FIFA announced on Wednesday that Kuwait had to forfeit the second round of the World Cup qualification match against Myanmar, which was initially scheduled for Nov. 17 last year, for its violation of FIFA rules.

FIFA had already suspended the Kuwait Football Association in October after the Gulf state failed to amend its sports law to prevent government interference in the national football body. The team’s match against Myanmar never took place.

Kuwait was in second place with 10 points and three matches to spare, but now with a 3-0 loss as a result of the forfeit, the maximum number of points the country can earn is 16. This gives Korea an automatic spot in the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Korea is currently leading Group G with 18 points and two matches remaining. In the second round Asian qualifiers, eight group winners and four best runners-ups will advance to the next round.

By JOO KYUNG-DON



TENNIS

Djokovic and Williams top seeds in Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia - Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top the Australian Open seedings lists, which follow rankings ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of 2016.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka moved back into the top 16 with her victory at the Brisbane International last week. She finished last season at No. 22 but moved up the rankings with her title run in the Australian Open warm-up tournament and was seeded No. 14 at Melbourne Park, meaning she avoids early-round encounters with the top-ranked players.

A win over 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori and a run to the semifinals at the Brisbane International lifted Australia’s Bernard Tomic to No. 16 in the men’s draw.

Four-time finalist Andy Murray was seeded No. 2, 17-time major winner Roger Federer was No. 3 and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka was No. 4, one higher than Rafael Nadal. John Isner was No. 10 and Milos Raonic, who beat Federer in the Brisbane final last weekend, was No. 13.

On the women’s side, Simona Halep was No. 2, Garbine Muguruza was No. 3, Agieszka Radwanska was No. 4 and Maria Sharapova was No. 5. AP

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