In Asia, Korea’s ‘Fantastic Four’ Can’t Be Stopped…Asian Cup Prospects ‘Blue Bull’

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min (32), Paris Saint-Germain’s Lee Kang-in (22), Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae (27) and Wolverhampton’s Hwang Hee-chan (27). This is the first time in the history of South Korean soccer that the national team has had so many players from top European clubs. The ‘Fantastic Four’ have been ‘on top of their game’ in every A-match.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s men defeated China 3-0 in the second match of Group C of the FIFA Confederations Cup North America 2026 Asia Second Qualifying Round at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in Guangdong, China on Nov. 21. It was their second straight win in the second round of World Cup qualifying.

‘Captain’ Son Heung-min scored twice and assisted once, while ‘God’ Lee Kang-in added a brace. Hwang Hee-chan converted a penalty kick (PK) in the opening 10 minutes and Kim Min-jae made eight interceptions to silence the boos from the 40,000 fans in China.

The national team’s “Fantastic Four” has been on a tear lately. South Korea’s win over China extended their unbeaten streak to five official games. They have a perfect record of 19 goals scored and zero conceded in that span. If you include the 0-0 draw against Wales in September, that’s six games in a row without conceding a goal.

A match between South Korea and China at the 2026 North American Football Championship Asia Second Qualifying Round at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen, China, on Sept. 21. South Korea’s Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot. Hwang Hee-chan celebrates with the team.레모나토토 주소

There’s good reason to be pleased with their performance. South Korea is aiming to win the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar next January. The Fantastic Four’s performances have boosted South Korea’s hopes of winning the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

South Korea has not been able to live up to its billing as the “Asian powerhouse” at the Asian Cup. They haven’t won since 1956 and 1960, and have only reached the final two times (1988 and 2015). In the last edition in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they suffered a humiliating 0-1 loss to Qatar in the quarterfinals.

South Korea has struggled to defend tightly at every Asian Cup. World Cup Asian qualifiers have often been similar, with South Korea narrowly missing out on qualifying for the World Cup.

But the current squad is a completely different animal. The recent goal feast is proof of that. In the second Asian qualifier against Singapore on the 16th, the opponent played a so-called “ten-back defense” with 10 players on the field staying behind the halfway line.

It was a stifling first half, but Lee Kang-in broke it up with his individual skill. He sent a roving pass that looked like a ruler to Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan), who scored the game-winning goal.

Korea scored two goals in the second half, a header by Hwang Hee-chan and a left-footed curling goal by Son Heung-min, to neutralize the Singapore defense. In the final minute, Lee Kang-in scored a thunderous left-footed wedge to complete the 5-0 victory.

The game against China was marked by rough play from the opposition, with the Chinese home crowd booing the national anthem before the game and shooting green lasers at Korean players.

However, South Korea overcame China’s rough play with set pieces. Taking advantage of the opponent’s rough play to earn a penalty kick, Son Heung-min scored the first goal, and the second goal was a header by Son Heung-min following a corner kick by Lee Kang-in.

After the game, Son Heung-min said, “I’ve been practicing a lot of set-piece attacks. It was a lucky goal, but Park Yong-woo’s (Al Ain) screen and Lee Kang-in’s pass were good,” he smiled.

It’s also worth mentioning the work of Kim Min-jae in defense. When China was on the counterattack or had a chance to shoot, Kim was there to stop them. He recorded eight interceptions on the day, shutting down China’s offense. Kim missed the A-match in June due to his basic military training schedule, but since his return, South Korea has kept a clean sheet in all six games.

When facing a lesser team, it is imperative for a strong team to capitalize on this opportunity and secure the three points. With that in mind, South Korea have been dominating Asian opponents lately with a variety of attacking options, and with the addition of set-piece goals, Klinsmann’s “attacking football” seems to be taking hold.

Korea’s group opponents at the Asian Cup – Bahrain (83rd in FIFA rankings), Jordan (82nd), and Malaysia (137th) – are all rated below par. That’s why South Korea is expected to make a splash.

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