The final A-match before the Asian Cup…a trip to China that matters in both content and result

Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korean national soccer team is looking to go out with a bang in its final A-Match of 2023. It will be the last A-Match before the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar next January, so it’s important that it delivers in both content and result.

Klinsmann’s men will take on China at the Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen, China, at 9 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 21 in the second Group C match of the 2026 North American Football Confederation (NAFTA) Asian qualifiers.

South Korea defeated Singapore 5-0 in their first match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sept. 16. China came from behind to win 2-1 in Bangkok on the same day to sit second in the group.

Klinsmann is on a roll.

After going winless in the March and June A matches following Klinsmann’s appointment in February, South Korea rebounded in September. After a 0-0 draw against Wales in their first September A match in Europe, South Korea have won four straight matches, including a 1-0 victory against Saudi Arabia in the second match.

Last month, the team swept Tunisia (4-0) and Vietnam (6-0) in their two A-Match matches in Anbangseo, and continued their momentum with a 5-0 win over Singapore on Sept. 16. They have exploded for 15 goals in their last three matches, and their defense has been steady with five consecutive clean sheets.

South Korea, ranked 24th in the FIFA rankings, has an objective advantage over China, ranked 79th. In terms of the all-time head-to-head record, South Korea has an overwhelming 22 wins, 12 draws, and 2 losses in 36 games. However, with the game being played in China, the Koreans can’t afford to let their guard down.

South Korea lost 0-1 away to China on March 23, 2017, in the sixth match of the Russian Federation World Cup final qualifying round at the Hulong Stadium in Changsha, China. In the aftermath of the so-called “Changsha disaster,” head coach Uli Stielike was sacked shortly afterward.

There are a lot of variables, but it’s still a game to seize.

South Korea is in great form with Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), who has scored in three consecutive games (four goals and two assists), as well as Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton). The back line, anchored by world-class defender Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), is also solid, with five clean sheets in five A matches. The experience and skill of the midfielders, including Lee Jae-sung (Mainz) and Hwang In-beom (Zvezda), also overwhelm opponents. 토토사이트

The team travels to Shenzhen on Nov. 19 for the final match and is determined to win.

“We want to be tough when we play strong teams,” said captain Son Heung-min. “Other Asian teams will be tough when they play us. I think it’s their tactic to make us angry and frustrated,” he said.

“It’s important not to get caught up in that. If we play our game, we’ll have a good game. We don’t have to be afraid of China.”

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