World Cup Qualification for South Korea continues on Thursday evening with an important and must win game against Qatar. South Korea started their qualification campaign solidly with a win over China PR followed by a road on-the-road against Syria. Whilst Qatar had an awful start losing both of the their games. The game will take place at the Suwon Big Bird World Cup Stadium. 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 have just started 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.
The Group A table so far;
South Korea sit in 3rd place after 2 games below Uzbekistan and Iran. China, Syria and Qatar complete the group, with all 3 sides already losing ground on the top 3.
Syria vs. South Korea – Preview and Prediction (Thursday October 6th 2016 at 8pm – Local Time)
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. In their opening 2 group games they looked solid for the most part beating China 3-2 but a 0-0 draw against Syria will be conceded as 2 points dropped.
Key Player: Tottenham Hotspur Striker Son Heung-Min (valued around $30million) has had a wonderful start to the Premier League Season scoring 4 goals in 4 league games. He’s scored 6 goals so far during qualification and will be influential against Qatar.
Qatar have never qualified for the World Cup Finals (although they will play in 2022 as hosts) but made the Asian Cup Quarter Finals most recently in 2011. During this qualification campaign they finished top in their group ahead of China, and they won 7 games and only lost their final qualifying game. They put 15 goals past Bhutan, a national record. However during this final stage of qualification they’ve found the step up in competition difficult losing their opening two games 2-0 away to Iran and 1-0 at home against Uzbekistan. So another defeat may end their 2018 world cup dreams early.
Key Player: Sebastián Soria originally from Uruguay but has been playing for Qatar for over 10 years now winning over 100 caps for his adopted nation. He’s heading towards the end of his career but can still be dangerous.
These sides have played each other 8 times with the first encounter coming back in 1980 with the record looking like this;
South Korea 4
The both of Qatars wins come back in the early 80s. The sides haven’t played often during the last 30+ years. The last time these nations played Korea won 2-1 with Son Heung-Min scoring the winning goal, it was only a 3rd round World Cup Qualifier 3 and a half years ago. (We were at the game)
South Korea 2 – 1 Qatar
South Korea will come into this game as favorites and will look to boss the game early on. Qatar will be defensive and look to counter. We see Korea scoring a couple of goal early in the second half, with Qatar scoring a consolation goal late on.
South Korea vs. Qatar (World Cup 2018 Qualifier) Result & photos
South Korea 3 – 2 Qatar
An exciting back and fourth game, with glimpses of quality. South Korea took the lead early in the 1st half thanks to a long range Ki Sung-Yeung strike. However Qatar equalized thanks to a penalty shortly after. Qatar then took the lead just before half time, with a combination of Sebastián Soria‘s South American skill and poor defending. In the second half Korea found an extra gear and scored 2 goals in 2 minutes which ultimately sealed the 3 points. Ji Dong-Won and Son Heung-Min with the vital goals.
Korea now travel to Iran for a clash at the top of the table, whilst Qatar host Syria.