2026 World Cup Asian Qualifier Preview: Thailand vs. South Korea

2026 World Cup Asian Qualifier Preview: Thailand vs. South Korea
2026 World Cup Asian Qualifier Preview: Thailand vs. South Korea

South Korea head to Bangkok to take on Thailand in matchday four of a 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Second Round clash. With the two teams playing out a 1-1 draw in Seoul on Thursday, caretaker manager Hwang Sun-hong will be hoping his team can make amends.
(Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Overview & Match Information

Fixture: Thailand vs. South Korea

Competition: 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Second Round

Venue: Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok

Date: Tuesday 26th March 2024, 21:30 KST

Match four of this second round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup sees the return fixture from Tuesday's 1-1 draw in Seoul. The draw, coupled with China's stalemate with Singapore, means that Korea remain top of the group by three points. Qualification to the next phase can't be secured just yet but a win would put Korea on the brink with Singapore away and China at home coming up in June. However, a draw in Bangkok and a win for China over Singapore would put the pressure on.

Thailand have managed just one win in their last 10 home World Cup qualifiers, a 2-1 victory against the UAE in October 2019 being the most recent. Their last two have ended in defeat - a 2-1 reverse to China in November was preceded by a 1-0 loss to Malaysia in June 2021. Away from home in World Cup Asian qualification, Korea have one loss in 10 - a 1-0 defeat to the UAE in March 2022.

Last Time Out

In Seoul last Thursday, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw. Son Heung-min opened the scoring just before half-time, turning in a Lee Jae-sung cutback from the left. But Thailand found an equaliser through substitute Muenta, who had only been on the field for a matter of minutes, beat the offside trap to fire home from inside the box.

Korea recorded an xG of 2.62 compared to Thailand's 0.72. Korea has the lion's share of possession with 79% to 21% but shooting accuracy was inferior, though, recording 31.82% (7/22) to Thailannd's 40% (2/5). Naturally, with nearly three-quarters of possession, Korea completed more passes (902) with 90% accuracy, while Thailand's passing accuracy was at 77% (211 total).

Korea attempted 45 positional attacks with 16 resulting in shots, compared to four from 14 for Thailand. Thailand attempted two counterattacks but neither resulted in a shot. Korea's crossing accuracy was a bit of an issue with just 20% (6) of the 29 finding the intended target, offering some insight into what will need to improve in Bangkok on Tuesday.

What's Been Said?

Hwang Sun-hong:

"The players did their best right up until the end. It doesn't end with this result. We have the away game next week. It's disappointing but we'll recover well and prepare for the next game.

"The camp was only short but that'd just be an excuse. What's disappointing is that on the whole, a lack of stability has meant things have become a bit more urgent. There were times when the balance went from one extreme to the other. Finding stability and managing the game is something that has to take precedence.

"This game will be helpful enough (in overcoming psychologist difficulties), I think. I think the players were all on the same page during the game. I'm not saying this to shift the blame; the preparation time was too short but the communication process can be trusted 100%.

"I think [Joo Min-kyu] played his part. Taking him off in the second half was something I had calculated. We conceded before we took him off. I made that decision so we could take control of the game and the timing of the substitution was unfortunate with the goal being scored. There was an offbeat.

"To keep possession we brought on technical players (Lee Kang-in). Having personal feelings at this time would be a luxury. We put out our strongest lineup to get the win, I have no regrets in who I picked. We'll look at fitness and think about who'll play in the next game."

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Joo Min-kyu:

"What'll remember the most about the game is that the ball came to be kind of erratically.

"If we'd have won then I could have given myself a high score but because we drew I can't. 50%, I think.

"Anyhow, as a striker the aim is to get that first goal. In the second game (against Thailand), then hopefully, by being a bit more relaxed I can perform the way that I'd like."


Masatada Ishii:

"It's hard to compare (which team was more 'one') but I think we showed good organisation. Korea have changed their manager since the Asian Cup. I think we were more together as a team (than Korea.)

"Of course, we're not 100% satisfied (but) we're pleased to have got a point against a strong team like Korea.

"We wanted to press right from the off. That's not something we wanted to do for the whole game. I wanted to use a fluid system."


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Thailand are ranked 101st in the world, moving up 12 spots, and 17th in Asia. The War Elephants are led by Japanese coach Masatada Ishii who has had a decorated career as a manager, winning two Thai League 1 titles with Buriram United, multiple domestic Thai cups, as well as a J1 League title and several domestic cup wins with Kashima Antlers. The 57-year-old has been in charge of Thailand since December 2023, overseeing six matches - winning just one, drawing three, and losing two.

During the Asian Cup, Masatada Ishii set his team up with a back four and either a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1. For the win against Kyrgyz Republic, Thailand played the full 90 in a 4-4-2 but switched to a 4-2-3-1 against Oman and Saudi Arabia and a 4-1-4-1 against Uzbekistan. On Thursday at Sangam, Ishii set his team up in a 4-4-2..

Thai football writer Gian Chansrichawla provided his insights on how Thailand play

"Basically, Ishii has created a system where it gets the best out of our defenders' capabilities, and we counterattack very effectively, very quickly. We try to win the ball in the middle of the pitch and quickly get it out to our dangerous players. But we're also comfortable in possession because that's what our team had been building towards before Ishii came in to try and be a possession-based side. This new approach of 4-4-2 with some pressing occasionally when we have the chance, but also against stronger teams just sitting back and waiting for counterattack opportunities, it's how you need to play against strong teams like South Korea."

K Leaguer to Watch

Joo Min-kyu

Ulsan HD striker Joo Min-kyu made his national team debut in the 1-1 draw on Thursday night. He was on the pitch for 64 minutes in total but was unable to dispatch a single shot. He did, however, complete all five of his passes, won seven of his 19 duels, and had two touches in the box. Aspects of Joo's game that are hard to quantify; he held the ball up well on one or two occasions as the true target man looking to bring others into play, but he will perhaps feel a little bit disappointed with his contributions in front of goal. With Hwang Sun-hong only in charge for one more match, Joo may never feature for Korea again and the return fixture in Bangkok on Tuesday could well be his last chance to score for his country. The soon-to-be 34-year-old will be determined to make his mark after his long wait to don the 'Taeguk mark.'