China coach calls for unity ahead of South Korea clash

China national team head coach Branko Ivankovic called for unity against South Korea against their FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifier in Seoul on Monday.


Head coach of China Branko Ivankovic (Top) looks on in a training session in Seoul, South Korea, June 10, 2024, one day ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifier match between China and South Korea. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)

"As a strong team in Asia, South Korea has always been a regular participant in the World Cup who have several world-class players with outstanding abilities. In response, we will focus on collective defense and prioritize team collaboration," Ivankovic said.

China are currently dealing with injuries, with forward Alan not traveling to South Korea, and Wu Lei and Zhang Yuning also carrying injuries. In such a situation, Ivankovic said, the team should be more concentrated.

China forward Fei Nanduo stated that the team are paying great attention to this game and hope to achieve a good result. "We will strive towards victory. Personally, I am in a good state and will do my best to help other young players."

South Korea captain Son Heung-min expressed that no game is easy, and they will give their all and not disappoint home fans' expectations on Tuesday.

The final round of matches in this group will take place on 11 June. South Korea have already secured top spot in the group, while Thailand, who are competing with China for the other top 18 spot, will host the already-eliminated Singapore team.

According to the current standings, China will directly advance to the round of 18 if they defeat or draw with South Korea. However, if they lose and Thailand win, the qualification spot will be determined by goal difference.