China try to keep momentum in World Cup qualifier vs. S. Korea

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China will kick off its first home match in the second stage of the FIFA World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers against South Korea on Tuesday.

China's head coach Aleksandar Jankovic from Serbia told the pre-match press conference here on Monday that his team could maintain its winning momentum after beating Thailand 2-1 last week in Bangkok in their first match of Group C.

Wu Xi (L) of China breaks through during the Group C match between China and Thailand at the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 16, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

"We are very motivated and exited before the second game. South Korea is a world high-level team, [and] we will show big respect to our opponents and the competition," Jankovic said.

South Korea enjoys 22 wins, 12 draws and two losses against China in head-to-head records. But China upset South Korea 1-0 at home in their last encounter in the Russia World Cup qualifier in 2017.

"It is our main target to qualify for the World Cup, and we got three points in the first game, which created a good momentum for us, and I hope we can keep this momentum," Jankovic said.

The world 24th-ranked South Korea had eased past Singapore 5-0 in their first Group C match with Tottenham's Son Heung-min scored the third goal. Son has scored in back-to-back matches for his country. With 39 international goals, Son is currently the third-best scorer in history for South Korea.

"It is not only Son, we have to defend all the players, many South Korean players have very big offensive potential, and it means danger could come from everywhere," the 51-year-old Serbian emphasized.

According to the local organizers, all the 40,000 tickets for this match have been sold out. Jankovic noted that his team will get extra energy, but the players have to control their emotions well.

"It will be exiting to play in a full stadium. We will play in front of the home crowd, which will boost our energy, but we have to control our emotions," Jankovic noted.

South Korea's head coach Jurgen Klinsmann from Germany expressed his confidence to take away three points from China after a potentially tough game.

"The World Cup qualifiers are huge. We hope we can continue to win. It will be a very difficult game. China is a tough team," Klinsmann said.

The German also set his target to win the Asian Cup which will start in Qatar next January.

"We have a lot of talents, we have a lot of quality players, to qualify for the World Cup is a marathon, our goal is to win this game, and then we will try to win the Asian Cup," the 59-year-old said.

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