‘Walle Firepower’ Hand-to-Hand, No Mercy ‘Shoot the Topseed!’


‘No mercy, shoot the top seed!’

After passing through the second qualifying gateway to the 2026 North America Cup early, the South Korean national soccer team will take on China at home in a ‘top-seed shootout’ in the final round of qualifying. Under interim head coach Kim Do-hoon, the national team will face China in the final six matches of Group C of the North American Football Confederations (NACC) Asia Region Second Qualifying Round on Nov. 11, kicking off at 8 p.m. at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

With a 7-0 away win over Singapore in the fifth leg on June 6, South Korea has four wins and one draw (13 points) and has clinched first place in the group regardless of the outcome of the final match with second-place China (2 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss – 8 points). They have qualified for the final third round of qualifying, which begins in September.

The Taegeuk Warriors have no intention of playing around. The final qualifying group seeding is up for grabs. The three top seeds in Asia are based on the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings. Japan (18th) and Iran (20th), who topped Group B and E, have already secured two of them. South Korea (23rd, 1563.99 points) and Australia (24th, 1563.93 points) will compete for the remaining spot. The two teams are separated by just 0.06 ranking points.

If they miss out on the top seed and go to Port 1, they’ll be in the same group as Asia’s biggest competitors in the final qualifiers – Japan, Iran, and Australia. That’s why it’s imperative to catch China. Australia will play the second-ranked Palestinians on Nov. 11 at Anbang for the sixth match of the tournament.

◇’Second Qualifier ALL-Scoring’ Son Heung-min, ‘Please do it again’ as he sets career record against China

The most notable scorer is undoubtedly “Captain” Son Heung-min (48 goals in 126 Tottenham-A matches). He has 토토 scored in each of his last five games. With seven goals in total, he is tied with Almoiz Ali (Qatar) for the second-highest goal total in qualifying. Beyond Asia, the world-class striker is feared by China. Son Heung-min has faced China four times since his age-group national team days and has never lost. All of them were victories, including a two-goal, one-assist “extraordinary performance” in the second leg against China last November, when he led South Korea to a 3-0 victory. He scored the first goal from the penalty spot and then added a second with a deft header from Lee Kang-in’s corner kick.

The presence of Son Heung-min and attacking midfielder Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) also puts a lot of pressure on China. Traditionally, China plays a physical, clunky style. They struggle to control a striker as small as Lee, who has a low center of gravity and excellent individual tactics. What’s more, Lee is a scorer, and the Sun-Kang Yin duo scored two goals apiece against Singapore. The duo will be aiming for the goal against China.

◇Chinese media says ‘draw is realistic’…60,000 Sangambees expected to cheer

China failed to secure its ticket to the final qualifying spot, which is awarded to the second best team, after a 1-1 draw in Thailand on Sunday. They are three points behind third-placed Thailand (5). Thailand will play Singapore (P1), who have already been eliminated, in the final match. China is +1 in goal difference. Thailand is -2. The second spot could change hands if South Korea beats China by multiple goals and Thailand catches Singapore. China will have their hands full against Korea. They will be counting on their top goalie Wu Lei (Shanghai Haigang), who is returning from a suspension.

However, the Chinese media is not making it easy for them. “China must beat or draw South Korea to qualify for the final round,” said Sohu Sports. However, South Korea also needs to defend its third place in Asia (FIFA ranking). It will be very difficult for China to get three points, and a draw will be a realistic goal.

60,000 cheers are reserved for the ‘Sangambeul’ on match day. According to the Korea Football Association (KFA), 64,000 tickets were sold out early. Tickets were sold out within an hour after the presale opened. Premium and red seats on the west side of the stadium, close to the players’ bench and the pitch, were sold out early. Football fans are hoping for a fireworks show from Son and Kang-in, as well as hopeful performances from the new additions of Bae Jun-ho (Stoke City) and Choi Jun (FC Seoul). The die is cast.

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