It seems that Tim Klinsmann’s leadership as the top player is slowly being overshadowed. All that remains is for Cho Gyu-seong (Midtjylland) to beat his competitors and solidify his position as a starting player.
Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who took charge of the national soccer team last March, insisted on a three-man striker system, including Kyu-Sung Cho, Ui-Jo Hwang (Norwich City), and Hyun-Gyu Oh (Celtic), whenever he was called up. However, there was no clear starter. He had the three players take turns running to check their skills.
In general, Coach Klinsmann’s best 11 did not deviate from public expectations. However, the owner of one spot on the front line was in the fog. However, Cho Kyu-seong, who started as a starter in the friendly match against El Salvador on June 23, also appeared as a starting member in the two-game series (Wales and Saudi Arabia) in September. In the match against Saudi Arabia, he made a mark by giving Klinsmann his first win with a header goal.
Cho Kyu-seong, who also started against Tunisia and Vietnam in October, took the top spot in the game against Singapore (5-0 win) on the 16th, leaving the impression that he was clearly ahead of the competition with Hwang Ui-jo and Oh Hyun-gyu.
In particular, his performance against Singapore was enough to live up to Coach Klinsmann’s faith. In the 45th minute of the first half, when the score was tightly tied at 0-0, Cho Gyu-seong finished Lee Kang-in’s (Paris Saint-Germain) sensational pass with one touch, breaking the balance of zero. If the game had gone into the second half without scoring, the game could have been difficult, but Korea was able to breathe thanks to Cho Gyu-sung’s goal. In the 4th minute of the second half, he helped Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) score with an accurate cross.
Cho Gyu-seong, who has demonstrated his strengths without hesitation, now has nothing left to do but solidify his position. Korea will face China at 9 p.m. on the 21st in the second round of the 2026 FIFA North and Central America World Cup Asian region second qualifying round. It is also an opportunity to prepare for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, which is less than two months away. It is also the final test for Cho Gyu-seong to prove his qualifications as a starting striker for the national soccer team before the Asian Cup.
The atmosphere is good. Jo Gyu-seong boasts excellent chemistry with Lee Kang-in, who is considered the core of Klinsmann. The final goal against Singapore was also scored by Kang-in Lee’s penetration pass, which Cho Gyu-seong rushed to the front of the goal at the moment. It would have been difficult to score if the striker and passer did not work well together. When assisting Hwang Hee-chan’s header goal, Cho Kyu-seong followed up Lee Kang-in’s dribble and crossed.
Coach Klinsmann’s offensive strategy centered on Lee Kang-in is expected to be a positive sign for Cho Kyu-sung. This is because there is a high possibility of creating synergy between Lee Kang-in’s greatest strengths, such as penetrating passes and crosses, and Jo Gyu-seong’s strengths, such as headers and finishes.
In fact, Cho Kyu-sung and Lee Kang-in also scored a goal in the second group match (2-3 loss) against Ghana at the 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup. Kang-in Lee, who was on the pitch as a substitute at the time, finished the cross from the left with a header by Gyu-seong Cho. It was the start of a perfect breathing experience.
While the two are expected to work hand in hand in the China match, attention is being paid to whether Cho Gyu-sung will completely take over Klinsmann’s top spot.