The Final Round of World Cup Qualification for South Korea starts on Thursday evening and it’s an important local derby against China PR. With the amount of recent spending in the domestic Chinese Super League there is of course a lot of interest and expectation on the national team to improve on their recent performances. South Korea are one of the most successful Asian Footballing Nations and so they’ll be looking to set a benchmark in this opening game of this final stage of qualification. Previews, Predictions and More here;
AFC World Cup 2018 Qualifying
Qualification for the 2018 World Cup started for AFC Member Countries back in March 2015 with a small knockout round featuring the lowest ranked Asian Nations. After this the big boys such as South Korea and China joined in a 2nd Round Group stage. Where the following sides progressed;
Saudi Arabia, UAE, China PR, Qatar, Australia, Japan, Iran, Syria, Thailand, Iraq, South Korea & Uzbekistan.
We are now just about to start the third and final round of qualification with the remaining 10 sides split into 2 groups of 5, the top 2 will go to Russia with the 3rd placed sides entering a playoff. Here are the groups;
Group A: Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar & Syria.
Group B: Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq & Thailand.
South Korea vs. China PR – Preview and Prediction (Thursday September 1st 2016 at 8pm)
South Korea have a strong recent history regarding World Cup Qualification, having made the finals 8 times on the bounce now. With their best performance coming in 2002 when they reached the Semi-Finals on home soil. Now under the leadership of German coach Uli Stielike they looked strong so far during qualification, easing past the 2nd round group stage.
Key Player: Tottenham Hotspur Striker Son Heung-Min (valued around $30million) had a mixed experience during the Olympic Games as Korea crashed out in the quarter finals. However for the full national side he’s the key danger man. He’s scored 6 goals during qualification and will be looking to impress the Seoul World Cup Stadiums crowd. Also rumors are that he’s on his way to Wolfsburg, which might affect his focus.
China despite being the worlds most populous country have only qualified for World Cup once in their history back in 2002, and they don’t fare well losing all of their games. Qualification hasn’t been plain sailing so far as they only reached this stage as a best runner-up with draws against Hong Kong and defeat to Qatar. They did however hammer Bhutan 12-0. They’ll certainly need to improve to challenge for a top 2 spot in this round.
Key Player: Shandong Luneng forward Yang Xu is one of qualifications top goalscorers with 8 goal (however 7 were against Bhutan). He scoring record for China is 22 goals in 46 games, pretty impressive. One for the future is the only overseas based player Zhang Yunging who plays for Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie, at only 19 years old he is considered to be one of China’s stars of the future.
These sides have played each other 30 times over the years with the record looking like this;
South Korea 17
The single win for China came back in 2010 during the East Asian Cup. The only 2 games between these sides since then were also in the East Asian Cup and ended 0-0 (in 2013) and 2-0 to Korea (in 2015).
They have never played each other before in a World Cup Qualifier.
*Please Note: Different records list some games that weren’t full internationals, but overall Korea have a strong advantage.*
South Korea 2 – 1 China PR
South Korea will come into this game as still favorites, but China will be backed by a reported 20,000 traveling supporters. We see Korea scoring a goal in either half, with China grabbing a late consolation.
South Korea vs. China PR (World Cup 2018 Qualifier) Result & photos
South Korea 3-2 China PR
South Korea started strongly and went into half time 1-0 ahead. They scored 2 more part way into the second half to make it 3-0. However China came back and suddenly it was 3-2. But in the end Korea survived and claimed a vital 3 points.