The Klinsmann’s Taegeuk Warriors braved the early winter winds to take the first step toward qualifying for their 11th consecutive FIFA World Cup.
The South Korean national team, coached by Jürgen Klinsmann, gathered at Mokdongju Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to train for the first match of Group C of the 2026 North American World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round against Singapore at Seoul World Cup Stadium at 8 p.m. on April 16.
As the daytime temperature dropped below 6 degrees and the wind blew, the players gathered at the training center with a chilly look on their faces.
Klinsmann has called up all of his key players, including Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Asian Games gold medalist Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) and Kim Min-jae (Munich), for the first home game of the second qualifying round against Singapore and the second away game against China on April 21.
Although the opponents are categorized as underdogs, Klinsmann is hoping to get the most out of his ‘best 11’ with only a short time until the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar next January.
However, there was no full training on the training field today.
Kim Young-kwon, Seol Young-woo, Kim Tae-hwan, Cho Hyun-woo (Ulsan), Kim Jin-soo, Moon Sun-min (Jeonbuk), Kim Min-jae, and Lee Kang-in, who all played in the K League last weekend, did recovery training in the gym at the national team’s accommodation.
Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City), Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic), Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan), and Hong Hyun-seok (Gent) will arrive tomorrow morning, so only 11 players, including Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan, participated in today’s outdoor training.
South Korea will compete against China, Singapore and Thailand in Group C of the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 FIFA World Cup North America.
The 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, will see a change in the qualification process, with the number of qualifying nations increasing from 32 to 48.
The number of tickets allocated to Asia has increased from 4.5 to 8.5.
In October, 20 teams ranked 27th to 46th in the FIFA Asia rankings played the first round of qualifying, which narrowed the field to 10 teams.
A total of 36 teams will compete in the second round, including the teams ranked 1-26 in the FIFA Asia Rankings and the 10 teams that made it through the first round.
The 36 teams will be divided into nine groups of four teams and play a home-and-away round-robin format, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the final round of 18 teams and a spot at the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
The 18 qualifying teams will be divided into three groups of six teams and play a home-and-home round-robin format, with the top two teams from each group earning a direct ticket to the World Cup.
In the final round of qualifying, the six teams that finish third or fourth in each group will compete again in two groups of three, with the top two teams earning two tickets to the World Cup. The second-place teams will play each other to determine who will advance to the intercontinental playoffs.
While the qualification process is a bit more complicated, Klinsmann says the end goal is still the same: to qualify.
South Korea is the sixth country in the world to qualify for 10 consecutive tournaments, having done so from Mexico in 1986 to Qatar in 2022. It is the 11th time South Korea has qualified for a World Cup since 1954 in Switzerland.
Only five other nations – Brazil (22), Germany (18), Italy (14), Argentina (13) and Spain (12) – have appeared in 10 or more consecutive World Cups.
South Korea, ranked 28th in the FIFA rankings, will face Singapore (159th), China (78th) and Thailand (111th) in the second round of qualifying.
In terms of the head-to-head record, South Korea leads them all by a wide margin. With 21 wins, three draws, and two losses against Singapore, South Korea leads the all-time series against China with 22 wins, 12 draws, and two losses, and has a 31-5-9 record against Thailand.
When the two teams meet on Sept. 16, it will be 33 years since they last met on Sept. 23, 1990, at the Beijing Asian Games.
After Singapore, Klinsmann’s men will travel to China on the 19th to acclimatize before facing China on the 21st at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in Guangdong, China. 파워볼사이트