Klinsmann is vigilant…”You can’t always get the same results”
“There’s no guarantee that we can win if we replay the game or if we go to the other team’s place.”
Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korea national soccer team won the first leg of their Asian qualifier for the FIFA Confederations Cup North America 2026 5-0 on Saturday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Klinsmann has cruised to four wins, three draws and two losses in nine matches since taking charge of South Korea. It is also the fourth consecutive win in A matches.
South Korea, ranked 24th in the FIFA rankings, will compete in the second round of Asian qualifying alongside China (79th), Thailand (112th) and Singapore (155th). The top two teams from the group advance to the final round of qualifying.
South Korea, which is attempting to qualify for its 11th consecutive World Cup, got off to a strong start with a convincing win over Singapore in its first match of the second round. They continued their dominance of the all-time series against Singapore with 22 wins, three draws, and two losses.
After the match, Klinsmann said, “I want to praise the players, it wasn’t an easy match. Our players were professional and gave it their all. Today’s game was about composure. “Against a team like this, you have to stay calm until you score the first goal. Once we scored the first goal, the players did what they were supposed to do, and I’m happy that they had fun on the field,” he concluded.
“It’s the same as the last game against Vietnam, but we have to be careful against teams that come down defensively. When they come out defensively, it’s very difficult to play. You don’t know what’s going to happen until you break the 0-0 balance. It was the same against Vietnam, but they also had chances to score. They had a goal disallowed, but there were situations where they could have scored.”
“It’s very important to reduce these mistakes,” Klinsmann said. They can create threatening situations at any time. That’s why we need to score the first goal and the second goal to make the game easier for ourselves.”
Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) had a big impact on the victory with one goal and one assist. It was Lee’s third consecutive game with a goal for the national team. He consistently threatened Singapore’s goal with sharp crosses from the right midfield.
“(Lee) is going to play a very important role,” Klinsmann said. When you play a team that drops down defensively like we did today, you need players who are creative. You need players who can get into the box, score goals, and be aggressive in one-on-one chances. “He can pass into the back of the box, he can score, he can be aggressive in one-on-one chances, and that’s what Lee Kang-in has done and will continue to do. Of course, we also have Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton). Players with these abilities will help us. I think we should utilize them more in the future.”
He added: “I’m happy to see Lee Kang-in grow. I think it’s the same for everyone. It’s a happy thing for Korean soccer. It’s great to have him in the national team. He’s showing that he can take more responsibility, and he’s maturing. He’s not just doing his own thing. He’s not just dribbling, passing and shooting, but he’s committed defensively, he’s showing energy,” Klinsmann continued to praise Lee’s performance.
Klinsmann continued, “As a coach, I’m constantly talking to him. I’m sure he’ll do the same with his team. I’m happy to see his growth,” he said, adding, “Before today’s game, I said to the players, ‘You have to raise your expectations before a marathon, a long journey, like the World Cup qualifiers. You have to push yourself. I think Lee Kang-in will do even better in the future.”
After last month’s win over Vietnam, Klinsmann’s team is coming off a big win over a Southeast Asian team.
When asked by a local reporter in Singapore if the Vietnam and Singapore matches were indicative of the gap between East and Southeast Asia, Klinsmann said, “It’s too early to tell. I’m happy with the result, but I don’t know if we can do the same thing today or against Vietnam or if we play them again or if we go on the road. You have to prepare with respect for any team you play. The next time we play Singapore, we can’t guarantee the same result as today.” “Singapore was very good in the first half today. I also told the Singapore coach, ‘I think we prepared well tactically in the first half. I saw that they didn’t want to be pushed back in one-on-ones and they wanted to dominate every moment. We’ll have to see what happens next time we meet.”
Later in the day, in the 35th minute, Son Heung-min was brought to the ground for a while by a rough tackle from an opponent.
Klinsmann said, “I was very angry that he made that foul at 4-0. It was inappropriate and unnecessary. I was angry for a second, wondering if I should have done it,” Klinsmann said, “but that’s why I’m positive about our team. Football is a physical sport. There is bound to be contact. There are very few games where players are at 100%. You can get injured. It’s up to the player to play through the pain and manage it. Lee Kang-indo limped in the first half when he was fouled, but he played through the pain and came back strong in the second half. You can see how many players are committed. There will be difficult matches ahead,” said the coach, praising the players’ mental strength.
After a short break, the Korean team will travel to China to face China in the second match of the tournament at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center on June 21 at 9 p.m. (KST). China’s tough defense and unfavorable environment are concerns.
“When I was coaching with the U.S. National Team, we had some difficult memories of going to Central American countries like Honduras,” Klinsmann said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get, but it’s a different environment and it can be difficult,” Klinsmann 안전놀이터 said. “But as a coach, you have to take it in as quickly as possible, adapt, and prepare your players. That’s the role of a coach. It can affect the game, but the most important thing is that no opponent is easy. We will prepare seriously for any opponent.”
He concluded, “We will play with respect for our opponents. I think the result would have been the same if we were playing at home in Singapore. When you cheer for every ball, it gives them more energy. Whatever the opponent and environment, we will prepare with respect.”