China keeps its World Cup dream alive despite 1-0 loss to South Korea. Thailand and India out

Tue, Jun 11, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

China keeps its World Cup dream alive despite 1-0 loss to South Korea. Thailand and India out

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - China kept its 2026 World Cup dream alive by the narrowest of margins despite a 1-0 loss to South Korea on Tuesday.

China advanced to the next qualification round because Thailand, needing to beat Singapore by three goals, only won 3-1.

South Korea finished the second round of Asian qualification atop Group C and remains on course for an 11th straight World Cup appearance.

In front of 65,000 fans at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Lee Kang-in scored in the 61st minute. A cross from Son Heung-min found its way to the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, who scored on a low shot from near the penalty spot.

"It was not an easy match but we were able to keep China from creating any dangerous chances," Son said. "There's no such thing as a perfect match, but we stayed patient and capitalized on our chance to win. Obviously, we could have won by a bigger margin, but overall, everyone did a great job."

China needed a draw to ensure second place in the group but was forced to wait and hope that Singapore could avoid a three-goal loss at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.

China's only World Cup appearance came in 2002.

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The top two teams from each of the nine groups progress to the next stage, where six teams will confirm their automatic places at the World Cup. A further two teams will confirm their direct spots in the fourth round.

Suphanat Mueanta put Thailand ahead in the first half, and Ikhsan Fandi equalized just before the hour.

Thailand made it 3-1 on goals from Poramet Arjvirai and Jaroensak Wonggorn but couldn't find the key fourth goal.

"I feel disappointed that we did not make it to the next round," Suphanat said. "I have to apologize to the football fans and all Thai people ... there were so many opportunities."

There was also heartbreak for India. The team needed to beat Group A leader Qatar to be sure of progressing but lost 2-1 in Doha. Kuwait beat Afghanistan 1-0 and took the second spot.

Earlier, in a game between teams already confirmed as first and second in Group I, Australia beat the Palestinian team 5-0 in Perth to make it six wins out of six.

Indonesia progressed with a 2-0 win over the Philippines in Group F.

North Korea took advantage of Syria's 5-0 loss to Japan, which did not concede a goal in the six games, to take second place in Group B with a 4-1 win over Myanmar.

Oman and Kyrgyzstan progressed from Group D while elsewhere, Iran, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan also made it into the third round which will kick off in September.

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