China is buzzing. Tottenham ‘Captain’ Son Heung-min, 31, is in ‘showtime’ and China is in ‘frenzy mode’.
‘Sonny’s’ celebrity status was evident from the moment he arrived at the airport. The airport was packed with fans wearing Tottenham jerseys. Tickets for the 40,000-seat stadium are already sold out.토토사이트
It’s the big day. Son Heung-min, the poster boy of Asian soccer and captain of South Korea, will be putting on a “show” for the first time in China, wearing the Korean flag. The Klinsmanns will take on China at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center at 9 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 21 in the second Group C match of the 2026 North American World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round.
Son, 31, made his A-Match debut on December 30, 2010, in a friendly against Syria. He has 115 A-match caps, but this will be his first time playing away from home in China.
No chance. On March 23, 2017, South Korea faced China in the sixth match of Group A of the 2018 Russian Federation Cup Asian Final Qualifiers in Changsha. But Son Heung-min was absent due to accumulating cautions, and his absence was big. South Korea went to their knees, 0-1. South Korea has only two losses (22 wins and 12 draws) in its all-time series against China. The one loss came on “that day” and “the Changsha disaster.
That’s not to say China is without experience. When Son Heung-min plays, it doesn’t hurt. He has faced China twice, on Sept. 1, 2016, in Seoul (Russian Federation World Cup final qualifying – 3-2) and Jan. 16, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Asian Cup – 2-0), and won both times.
The popularity of the English Premier League (EPL) is huge in China. Son Heung-min needs no introduction: He became the first Asian player to win the EPL Golden Boot (top scorer-23 goals) in the 2021-2022 season. This season, he was named captain of Tottenham. With eight goals in 12 games, he is third in the league in scoring behind Elling Holland (Man City-13) and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool-10). In short, Heung-min is the pride of Asia.
He’s not the only one. Lee Kang-in (22-Paris Saint-Germain), the ‘future of Korean soccer’, is also new to Chinese football. Hwang Hee-chan (27, Wolverhampton), on the other hand, is the ‘old face’. He came on as a 21st-minute substitute in the second half of the Changsha disaster.
The atmosphere couldn’t be better. Klinsmann’s men won their first game of the second qualifying round 5-0 against Singapore on Sept. 16. It was a crisp first step toward an 11th consecutive World Cup appearance. With four straight wins in A matches, Klinsmann’s men have scored a whopping 15 goals in their last three games. The ‘three’ at the center of the firepower Lee Kang-in has scored in three A-Match matches, while Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan have scored in two consecutive matches. They are expected to continue their ‘goal storm’ against China.
South Korea is ranked 24th in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), while China is 79th. But traveling is a burden. China is fresh off a 2-1 upset win over Thailand in the first leg of the second qualifying round. However, due to the objective power differential, China’s options are limited. The team is expected to play a rough game with a “costly counterattack.
“I’ve watched and analyzed many of Son Heung-min’s games,” said defender Zhang Senrong. He is a high-level player with both feet. But we will work together tactically with our teammates to actively stop him. We’ll see how we can stop him on the field,” he said, expressing confidence.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Son Heung-min. Their tactics might be to make us angry and frustrated. But if we don’t get caught up and play our game, we can have a good game. We don’t have to be afraid of China. We just need to play our game well,” he emphasized.
Kim Min-jae (27-Bayern Munich) attended the official press conference on the 20th, a day before the final, along with coach Jürgen Klinsmann. “We came to play a winning game, and it will be a tough game, but we are preparing well, so we will definitely win,” Kim said. “Of course, we are aiming for a clean sheet. If the defense doesn’t concede, I’m confident that the offense will be able to score enough goals.”
Klinsmann added: “We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game as we have prepared very well, but I don’t think there are any easy games in the second round of World Cup qualifiers. I think it’s going to be a very difficult game against China. We will respect the Chinese team and their players.”
Aleksandar Jankovic, head coach of the Chinese national team, added: “We have to stop not only Son Heung-min, but the whole team. The whole team, every player, must defend according to the system with high level of tactical movement and sophistication. The potential of their offense is huge. It could be a crisis from any side.”