South Korea begins its World Cup qualifying campaign against Singapore in Seoul on Thursday followed by a trip to face China, and while Jurgen Klinsmann’s side is expected to make short work of both opponents, the German is taking nothing for granted.
The Koreans, who have appeared at the last 10 World Cups, are heavy favourites to top Group C in the second phase of qualifying for the 2026 tournament, which will be hosted in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and is the first to feature 48 teams.
After a rocky start to his tenure, Klinsmann has guided Korea to three straight wins in friendly matches and should make it five victories on the trot against 155th-ranked Singapore and number 79 China.
“I don’t agree with that at all. It will be the wrong way to look at it,” Klinsmann said. “All the teams that fight for a spot in the World Cup will fight even harder now. It will be still very difficult.
“You have to have a very professional mindset. We will be very serious in every World Cup qualifying game.”
South Korea, number 24 in the FIFA rankings, has won the Asian Cup twice, but the regional heavyweight has not lifted the trophy since 1960.
Klinsmann said winning the next edition in Qatar early next year was its number one target.
“We want to go there and win the Asian Cup,” he added. “Not say maybe final four. Not maybe. We go there to win it.
“You have to put this into your mind because a tournament is mainly a mind game. You have to build belief. You have to build credibility within the team that you can win it.
“We have to aim for the highest goal. If we don’t reach it, then it’s the fault of the coach. It’s no problem.”