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South Korea’s men’s national soccer team breezed through the first gateway to the 2026 North American Football Confederation (NAFTA) World Cup with a rainy day goal.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s 59th-ranked team defeated Singapore 5-0 on Saturday at Seoul World Cup Stadium in the first match of Group C of the North American Football Confederation (NAFTA) Asia Second Qualifying Round, thanks to goals from Cho Kyu-sung (25-Mitwillan), Hwang Hee-chan (27-Wolverhampton), Son Heung-min (31-Tottenham), Hwang Eui-jo (31-Norwich City) and Lee Kang-in (22-Paris Saint-Germain).

With the win, South Korea took the first step toward qualifying for its 11th consecutive World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. Drawn in Group C alongside China, Thailand, and Singapore in the second round of qualifying, South Korea scored early and often to secure the win.

However, it was not a smooth road for the 24th-ranked South Koreans to get their first win against the 155th-ranked underdogs from Singapore. “I don’t think they’re underdogs at all,” Klinsmann warned.

Despite having an all-European second line of Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Jae-sung (31-Mainz) and Lee Kang-in, anchored by frontline goalkeeper Cho Kyu-sung, it took time for the first goal.

The problem was Singapore’s dense defense, which set up a “bus” in front of the goal in two rows. Hwang Hee-chan’s bold breakthrough was the centerpiece of the defense, but to no avail. The lack of space made it difficult to connect with shots. To make matters worse, they were also unlucky. In the 23rd minute, Lee Kang-in’s cross from the right flank was headed down by Cho Kyu-sung and sharply slotted in by Lee Jae-sung, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

It was confirmed as a mistake on the slow screen, but with no video assistant referee (VAR) to overturn the decision, a goal was stolen.

A minute before halftime, Cho Kyu-sung scored a valuable goal. Lee Kang-in sent in an exquisite cross from the back, and Cho Kyu-sung sensationally raced onto it and slotted it home with his left foot. Cho also assisted Hwang Hee-chan’s header in the fourth minute of the second half.

In the 18th minute, captain Son Heung-min joined the scoring spree. From the right flank in front of the penalty box, he curled a left-footed ball into the goal with a beautiful curve. The stadium erupted with excitement at this fantastic goal from the ‘Son Heung-min Zone’. The cheers from the 64,381 fans in attendance, who braved the rain and cold, did not die down.

Gaining confidence, South Korea was able to afford to introduce Hwang Eui-jo, Kim Jin-soo (31-North Korea) and Jung Woo-young (24-Stuttgart) in quick succession, and Hwang calmly slotted home a penalty kick (PK) in the 23rd minute after Seol Young-woo (25-Ulsan) was fouled by Singaporean naturalized player Song Eui-young (30-Surabaya).

In the 40th minute, Lee sealed the victory with a sharp left-footed mid-range shot from the edge of the opposition box. Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Kang-in extended 토토 their goal-scoring streak to three consecutive A-Match matches, following 4-0 wins against Tunisia and 6-0 victories against Vietnam last month. After the comfortable win at home, the team will travel to China on Sept. 19 for the second leg of the second round of qualifying at 9 p.m. on Sept. 21.


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