Is the door closed on ‘full-on World Cup mode’ Klinsmann, or will there be a surprise?

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is over after the round of 16. South Korea’s soccer team is back on the road to qualify for a new World Cup.

The Klinsmanns will face Singapore (155th – Korea 24th) at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Group C of the 2026 North and Central American World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round, before traveling to Guangdong, China, to face China (79th) on Sunday at 9 p.m. at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center. The top two teams from each of the nine groups in the 36-team Asian qualifier will advance to the third round. A ticket to the Asian Cup is also up for grabs. South Korea, which is looking to qualify for its 11th consecutive World Cup, will play six home and away matches against fellow group members Singapore, China and Thailand.

Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann will name his squad on November 6, when the first tape is cut. It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann, who returned home on March 3 after a two-week break and “intuitively” watched the FA Cup final between Pohang and Jeonbuk on April 4, picks any new faces. Klinsmann surprisingly named defender Kim Ji-soo (Brentford), goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon), and midfielder Lee Sun-min (Gwangju) for the September European tour. Kim and Kim Jun-hong, both from the U-20 national team, were picked with an eye toward the future. Midfielder Lee Dong-kyung (Ulsan) and all-weather flanker Kang Sang-woo (Beijing Guoan) were the first selections under Klinsmann.

However, of the five, only Lee Soon-min and Kim Jun-hong were named again for the October domestic friendlies. There were no surprises like in September. Klinsmann said, “For the Asian Cup in Qatar, we’re going to stick with the existing members. We’ve drawn a picture. The closer we get to the major tournament, the more important it is to have continuity. We have a core group of eight to 10 players that we hope will stay together through the Asian Cup without injury. It’s not going to change,” he said. “The door to the national team is always open,” he said, but that doesn’t mean every player will be able to walk through it. After seven months of experimentation and player evaluation, Klinsmann, who took over in February, seemed to have the final roster virtually locked down three months before the Asian Cup.

Luckily for the national team, there are no major injuries to speak of, which is why the possibility of a surprise selection seems unlikely. It’s not as if the likes of strikers Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan) and Oh Hyun-kyu (Celtic) had injury problems ahead of their European trials in September. The main Europeans, including captain Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), and Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), who are considered the “backbone” of the squad, are in top form at the start of the season. Lee Jae-sung (Mainz) scored a sensational diving header against Leipzig on Sept. 5 to give his team its first win. Hwang In-beom (Tsubena Zvezda) has recovered from a thigh injury sustained in October and has played a full match for his club. 무지개토토

The goalkeeping position is another potential squad change. Song Bum-geun (Shonan), the longtime third choice goalkeeper, returned to team training late last month after two months on the sidelines with a stress fracture. He told local media that he is “in good shape”. With Klinsmann “intuiting” the FA Cup after the break, he’ll be looking to add Song Min-kyu (Jeonbuk) to his squad for the final.

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