Monday, 22nd April 2024

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Attention is paid to Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in’s ‘Breathing’

Hwang Sun-hong, World Cup qualifier Thailand

Korea has won 30 games, seven draws and eight losses

Attention is focusing on whether Joo Min-gyu will participate in the first boarding

The South Korean national soccer team will reunite tonight. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup championship failure and a clash between teammates have caused controversy, but they have taken it one step further against Thailand by resolving the conflict.

Team Korea, led by Hwang Sun-hong, will play its third Group C match of the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 North and Central American World Cup against Thailand at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Seoul World Cup Stadium. Korea ranks first in the group with two wins (six points), and Thailand ranks second with one win and one loss (three points). Korea is ahead of Thailand in terms of objective performance. Korea is ranking 22nd in the FIFA rankings, while Thailand is ranking 101st. In addition, the team is showing strong performance with 30 wins, seven draws and eight losses in past matches. It lost 1-2 in an away match against Bangkok, Thailand, in December 1998.

The biggest concern is the “reunion” between captain Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) and the youngest Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain). Lee Kang-in apologized to Son after an internal clash at the Asian Cup, but it is the first time that he has visited London and made an apology. Attention is also focusing on whether the national team’s “new faces” Joo Min-kyu, Lee Myung-jae (Ulsan HD), and Jeong Ho-yeon (Gwangju FC) will make debuts.

Hwang particularly emphasized the harmony between Lee and his teammates. “We respect the other team, but many factors, including our mindset, can play a bigger role,” Hwang said. “Our teammates and Lee Kang-in should work together to solve the problem. It is important to show it on the field.”

Thailand’s head coach is Masatada Ishii. Having won four championships including the Japan J-League and the Emperor’s Cup with the Kashima Antlers, Ishii also finished second at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2016. He moved to the Thai league in 2019, won six titles at Buriram United, and served as the technical director of the Thai national team in 2023 before taking the helm in November last year. Another major player in the Thai league is Supachai Chaidid (Buriram), the top scorer and MVP of the Thai league last season.

“Tomorrow will be another challenge. When facing a strong team like Korea, defense is important,” Ishii said. “I will take at least one point. To do that, we need to minimize mistakes.”

Meanwhile, the U-23 national team beat Thailand 1-0 in the first round of the Western Asian Football Confederation (WAFF) U-23 Championship on Sunday. Cho Hyun-taek (Kimcheon Sang-mu) scored the winning goal. The U-23 national team will participate in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, which will also serve as the Asian qualifying round for the 2024 Paris Olympics, next month. The first to third-place teams at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup will be given a berth to advance to the Paris Olympics.

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