South Korea Japan Australia Saudi Arabia ‘cruising’, China North Korea ‘creaking’

Asia’s traditional powerhouses kicked off their campaigns for the 2026 FIFA Confederations Cup North America on a high note with victories in the West, but China’s ‘hard-fought’ win in Thailand and North Korea’s defeat in the Middle East signaled a thorny road ahead.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s men’s national team cruised to a 5-0 victory over Singapore in the first match of Group C of the 2026 FIFA North American Football Confederation (FIFA) World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round at the Seoul World Cup Stadium at 8 p.m. on Saturday, thanks to a one-goal, one-assist performance from “Golden Boy” Lee Kang-in and consecutive goals from Cho Kyu-sung, Hwang Hee-chan and Son Heung-min.

The ‘autonomous’ Klinsmann’s men were unable to break through Singapore’s dense defense, which had 10 players lined up in two rows, to take a 1-0 lead at the break, but Lee Kang-in’s breakaway and creative play in the second half led to four more goals to complete the rout in front of a packed 60,000 home fans.

Lee Kang-in, the 22-year-old Korean soccer hopeful, set up Cho Kyu-sung’s opening goal in the 44th minute with an incisive behind-the-back pass that was denied by a blatant offside call and bad luck in goal. His left-footed cross, which found the Singapore defense perfectly, sparked the goal celebration. After being held to one goal despite an 80%-20% possession advantage, South Korea scored four more goals in the second half to seal the victory.

In the fourth minute of the second half, Hwang Hee-chan converted an assist from Cho Kyu-sung into a header, followed by Son Heung-min’s trademark winding kick in the 18th minute, Hwang Eui-jo’s penalty kick in the 23rd minute, and Lee Kang-in’s mid-range shot in the 40th minute. Lee Kang-in, who had one goal and one assist and was involved in all five goals, proved to be a key player for Klinsmann with his third consecutive A-Match goal. 캡틴토토 주소

In South Korea’s other Group C match, China recorded its first win of the tournament with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Thailand. China got off to a shaky start, conceding a goal to Sarach Yun (BG Pathum United) in the 23rd minute of the match at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on Sept. 16.

The Chinese responded to the unexpected blow by equalizing through Wu Lei (Shanghai Haigang) in the 29th minute, just six minutes after conceding, before Wang Sangyuan (Henan FC) scored his A-match debut in the 29th minute to seal the win. With the win, Group C of the Asian Second Qualifying Round remains unchanged, with South Korea leading with 3 points (1 win) and a goal difference of +5, followed by China in second place with 3 points (1 win) and a goal difference of +1, and Thailand (0 points, -1 goal difference) and Singapore (0 points, -5 goal difference).

The FIFA rankings for Group C are South Korea (24th), China (79th), Thailand (112th) and Singapore (155th). South Korea travels to China on Nov. 21 for a crucial second leg that could decide the group’s fate.

In Group B, Japan also opened their qualifying campaign with a convincing 5-0 victory over Myanmar at home.The Japanese got a hat-trick from Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord) and further goals from Daichi Kamada (Lazio) and Doan Ritsu (Freiburg) in a 5-0 win over Myanmar. The win extended Japan’s unbeaten streak to seven games in recent A matches. The streak includes wins over Germany (4-1), Turkiye (4-2) and Canada (4-1).

In Group B, North Korea lost its first match against Syria 1-0 on Saturday at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, thanks to a 37th-minute penalty kick from Omar Al Soma. North Korea got off to a tough start, losing despite the return of Han Kwang Sung, dubbed the “People’s Ronaldo,” to the field after more than three years, and despite a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series.

Australia thrashed Bangladesh 7-0 at home, led by a Jamie McClaren (Melbourne City) hat-trick, while Iran thrashed Hong Kong 4-0 with Sardar Azmoun (AS Roma) scoring a brace. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), coached by Paulo Bento (Portugal), thrashed Nepal 4-0, while Vietnam secured a 2-0 win away to the Philippines to set themselves up for the final round of qualifying.

Kim Pang Gon’s Malaysia won a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Kyrgyzstan, but Shin Tae Yong’s Indonesia suffered a 1-5 defeat against Iraq.

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