Fans cheer, media recognize…Korean soccer is an object of admiration in China

South Korean soccer is looking to qualify for its 11th consecutive World Cup and 12th overall. 캡틴토토 주소

The national team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann (GER), faced China away at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center on Nov. 21 in the second Group C match of the 2026 North American Football Championship Asia Second Qualifying Round. It was the first chapter of the second round of qualifiers and the final A-match of the year, following the home opener against Singapore (Nov. 16).

One of the most striking aspects of the trip was China’s attitude. It was a far cry from the past, when they were often overconfident. Despite a 2-1 away win over Thailand in the first round, they kept a low profile as they prepared for their 37th A-Match against South Korea.

It wasn’t just the head-to-head record of 22 wins, 12 draws, and 2 losses in favor of South Korea. It was the sheer quality of the Korean team. With European big names like Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), and Lee Jae-sung (Mainz), as well as the likes of Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan) and Hwang In-beom (Tsubena Zvezda), South Korean players were the envy of China.

China is a sports powerhouse, but it knows it can’t match Korea in soccer. Money can’t buy skill and talent, as evidenced by the collapse of the Super League and the national team, which has been mediocre despite being coached by a number of greats. Still, China can only cheer for Wu Lei (Shanghai Shenhua), who made a marginal impact at Espanyol (Spain). For years, the country has neither discovered nor nurtured the next generation of stars.

Of course, the enthusiasm was high. According to the Chinese Football Association, there were more than 250 Chinese journalists in attendance. About 150 people showed up for the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, but no one was expecting the national team to put on a show.

Local fans were no different. Shenzhen, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, has a particularly high interest in European soccer, including the English Premier League (EPL). Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in, and others were akin to K-pop idols. The Taegeuk Warriors were greeted with cheers from the moment they arrived in Shenzhen on the 19th, and more than 40,000 tickets were sold out within an hour of going on sale. “We were informed of the sellout by the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) officials,” Klinsmann said. It shows how much they were looking forward to the match,” Klinsmann smiled.






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