‘What a twist of fate’ China’s World Cup survival clutched by South Korea

In June 2017, in the Chinese capital of Beijing, “the giant of international soccer” FIFA President Gianni Infantino sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was five months after FIFA announced at the beginning of the year that it would increase the number of teams competing in the FIFA World Cup by 16, from 32 to 48. “I hope that China will have the opportunity to host the Men’s World Cup in the future,” Xi said, to which Infantino responded, “Today marks the beginning of a new and closer cooperation between China and FIFA for the future of football.” Since then, Chinese football’s influence within FIFA has grown, with then-Chinese Football Association Vice President Zhang Jian elected to the FIFA Executive Committee and a number of Chinese companies sponsoring the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Infantino also announced that the inaugural Club World Cup, which will expand to 24 teams, will be staged in China in the summer of 2021. While the pandemic ultimately prevented the Club World Cup from taking place in China as planned, FIFA rolled up its sleeves to tap into the market of 1.4 billion people. As Infantino’s “pick,” it was only natural that China would be among the favorites to host the 2030 or 2034 World Cup.

When FIFA announced a new system to increase participation by 16 teams starting with the 2026 North American World Cup, the general consensus was that it was “designed” to eventually bring China to the World Cup stage. China’s only World Cup experience came in 2002, when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) increased the quota allocated to the tournament, which was co-hosted by fellow Asian nations South Korea and Japan. In the five subsequent World Cups, China has failed to qualify for the knockout rounds due to lack of quality. The barriers for South Korea, Japan, Iran, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others were too high. However, there is a glimmer of hope for the upcoming World Cup, as the number of tickets allocated to Asia has been increased by four, from 4.5 to 8.5. The World Cup qualifiers also have a “winner-take-all” system. Of the 18 teams that made it through the second qualifying round and into the third round, the top six teams in each of the three groups will advance directly to the World Cup, while the six teams that finished third or fourth in each group will play another group stage with two tickets remaining. Even if they didn’t finish first and second in the third qualifying round, they still had a chance to try again. Asia is the only continent that is this ‘friendly’.

But then an unexpected variable comes along. China is refusing to eat off the table. After finishing second in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Asia qualifiers to earn a spot in the third round, the Chinese are sitting in second place in the North American qualifiers with two wins, two draws and one loss for eight points. With a three-point 사설토토 goal difference and three-goal advantage over third-place Thailand (five points), they have a good chance of punching their ticket to the third round, which is awarded to the top two teams, but the problem is that China will play South Korea (13 points) away at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Nov. 11, while Thailand hosts the group’s weakest team, Singapore (one point), on the same day. A tie is enough for China to secure second place, but if China loses to South Korea and Thailand wins big against Singapore, the standings could be reversed. Third place in the group would mean World Cup failure. Furthermore, South Korea is not a favorable opponent for China. Kim Do Hoon-ho already punched his ticket to the third round early with a 7-0 win over Singapore, but there’s plenty of reason to focus on the Korea-China match. In order to be top-seeded in the third round, Korea must maintain its FIFA ranking. The third round groupings, which begin in September, are seeded based on the June FIFA rankings. South Korea is ranked 23rd in June, third among Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nations behind Japan (18th) and Iran (20th). South Korea will need to maintain its current ranking to avoid the likes of Iran and Japan in the third round. With only 0.96 FIFA ranking points separating them from Asia’s fourth-ranked Australia (24th), they can’t afford to let their guard down.

According to Chinese portal Sohu.com on July 7, Chinese celebrity journalist Bai Guohua said, “Thailand is very likely to win against Singapore at home. They have to take a point away from South Korea, which is suffocating.” ”Don’t expect the Chinese team to look down on South Korea because they have already qualified. “Don’t expect the Chinese team to look down on South Korea because they have already qualified. The key is whether China has the courage to win a point away from home,” he added in a self-helpful tone. Some Chinese media outlets have raised theories of match-fixing before the game, as well as concerns about the Saudi Arabian referee assigned to the game. South Korea holds the fate of Chinese soccer in its hands. “We have one last goal to accomplish,” said Kim Do-hoon, the interim coach, in an interview on his return home on Sunday. We are playing at home, and just as the result against Singapore gave our fans pleasure, we want to win the final match of the second qualifying round.” Midfielder Hwang In-beom said on the 9th, “I won’t be flustered. We will bring both performance and results,” said midfielder Hwang In-beom on the 9th.


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