Korean football smiling again after Thai trip

Korean national team captain Son Heung-min  celebrates after scoring against Thailand during the Group C match in the second round of the Asian World Cup qualification tournament at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, Tuesday. Yonhap

What a difference a game makes. South Korea’s 3-0 win over Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday in a qualifier for the 2026 World Cup not only has the team within touching distance of the all-important third round but also has everyone feeling better.Just five days earlier, Thailand drew 1-1 in Seoul in the first game since the traumatic and turbulent Asian Cup. It was also the first game since Hwang Sun-hong became interim coach to replace Jurgen Klinsmann who was fired in February. It had been a disappointing performance and result but in the warmer climes of the Thai capital, Korea made short work of the hosts.Lee Jae-sung opened the scoring in the first half from the closest of ranges, early in the second Son Heung-min found the target for the second time in five days and then Park Jin-seob sealed the win late in the game to silence the vast majority of the 45,000-plus fans. It was a first win in seven games and a first clean sheet at the same time too. It does not mean that everything is well but it does mean that everyone can start talking about something else.It will be satisfying that Lee Kang-in assisted Son for the all-important second. The two were infamously at the center of a reported scuffle at the Asian Cup in Qatar that sent shockwaves through Korean football. To see the stars of Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur working together on the field will go down very well back home.

The victory means that the team, going for an impressive 11th successive World Cup, now has 10 points from four games in Group C, three ahead of China in second and six clear of Thailand. With the top two going through to the next stage, Korea only needs one point from its remaining two games, the first in Singapore on June 6 and the second at home to China five days later.That will not be an issue. The focus now is on getting ready for the next stage which starts in September. That is when the 18 surviving teams divide into three groups of six with the top two from each going straight to the World Cup.By that time, the Taeguk Warriors should have a permanent coach. Hwang is only temporary and there may well be a new man in charge before the team plays again.Hwang is in charge of the U-23 team and now has to focus on a different qualification campaign to take the team to the Paris Olympics this summer. In order to do that, he will have to secure a top-three finish at the U23 Asian Cup in Qatar in April.”I feel like I still have a long way to go as a coach. I am just trying to do the best I can,” Hwang said. “I will now put an end to my work with the senior team and rejoin the U-23 team. I will try to bring home good results from the Olympic qualifying tournament.”His replacement will be saying the same about the 2026 World Cup and, whoever he is, will at least come to take 메이저 over a team that is now feeling a little better about itself.

5 thoughts on “Korean football smiling again after Thai trip

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