Performed so well that they could eliminate the clash between the Asian Cup of the Association of Asian Football Associations (AFC)

With outstanding teamwork, the two scored a point and achieved a landslide victory, capturing the hearts of more than 50 million people. Hwang Sun-hong, the “temporary captain,” stood tall as the best leader by winning the title of a friendly match at the U-23 national team, which he conducted remotely following his debut win at the A match.

South Korea beat Thailand 3-0 in the fourth Group C match of the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 North-Central America World Cup, which took place at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on the night of the 26th (Korea time). Son Heung-min, Lee Jae-sung (Mainz), and Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk Hyundai) each scored one goal. South Korea solidified its lead with three wins and one draw (10 points). China ranks second with two wins and one draw and one loss, Thailand ranks third with one draw and two losses (four points), and Singapore ranks fourth with one draw and three losses (one point). South Korea will advance to the third qualifying round with just one draw in the remaining two games. In the second qualifying round, the first and second place teams in the group will advance to the third qualifying round.

The joint goal between Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in drew the most attention. In the 9th minute of the second half when the team was leading 1-0, Lee Kang-in threw a pass from the midfield, and Son Heung-min, who caught the ball from the left side of the box, broke through the left side of the penalty area and hit the net with a left footed shot. Lee Kang-in immediately ran to Son, and the two shared their joy with a big smile and a hug. Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in clashed before the semifinal match at the Asian Cup last month and reconciled, but they collaborated and scored a goal in this match to become a symbol of true harmony. “I hugged (Lee Kang-in) for the first time in a long time, and he was so cute, and I hope he would do better,” Son said. “I’m sure Kang-in will become a cooler player.” “Playing soccer, they have such a strong desire to win, and since they have something they want and demand, there can be disputes,” he added. “Everyone watches Kangin’s actions. I hope he acts with the thought that he should be an example for the 50 million people.”

Hwang, who took the helm temporarily, ended two consecutive A matches in March with ease. It was more chaotic than ever due to the collision between Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in, and the replacement of Jurgen Klinsmann, but Hwang quickly took the lead and secured one win and one draw from the two matches. Notably, Hwang raised concerns by concurrently serving as the head coach of both the A team and the U-23 team, but he erased all concerns by winning the Western Asian Football Confederation (WAFF) U-23 Championship on Tuesday morning. The U-23 team won the penalty shootout 4-3 after drawing 2-2 with Australia in the final, which was conducted without Hwang.

Hwang will now focus on the 2024 Paris Olympics. If he is included in the top three at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, which will also serve as the Asian qualifiers for the Paris Olympics, he will be able to secure a berth to the finals. If Hwang advances to the finals of the Paris Olympics, he will be given “additional points” in hiring the next A-team head coach. The national team’s power enhancement committee plans to appoint an official head coach before the A-match in June, but there seems to be no reason to exclude Hwang, who has made the team “one team.” “It would have been difficult without the players’ will. The players were determined to win without fail,” Hwang said. “Now I want to return to the Olympic team players who are struggling. I will prepare well and try to get good results in the Olympic qualifiers.”


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