Sat, 09 Dec 2023

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SHENZHEN, China, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- China head coach Aleksandar Jankovic vowed to keep his team moving forward after the 3-0 home loss to South Korea in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Zone qualifying tournament second stage here on Tuesday.

"The supporters in Shenzhen gave us warm welcome, and I feel sorry that we couldn't offer three points to them tonight. The South Korean team played a good game, punishing us on every small mistake we made. I say congratulations to them, and we will see each other later [in the next faceoff]," Jankovic told the post-match press conference.

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"Losing 3-0 is always painful, but I can be sure we will take the right conclusion from the game and keep moving forward. We had some combination play tonight, which is very useful for our future games, especially in terms of keeping possession under high pressure," Jankovic noted.

In the second stage of the Asian qualifying tournament, 36 teams have been divided into nine groups competing in a home-and-away round-robin format. The top two of each group will advance to the third stage.

In the Group C openers last Thursday, China rallied to beat Thailand 2-1 in Bangkok and South Korea thrashed Singapore 5-0 at home.

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Jankovic admitted that he could accept the three points in two matches. "We have a very clear target which is to qualify for the World Cup. The first match against Thailand was very important, and we won it. With three points, we are now on the right track."

"We have some problems that we must correct in the future," said Jankovic, whose team will play against Singapore twice next March. "We will prepare to win both matches and get six points."

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The Serbian coach also emphasized the importance of the upcoming Qatar AFC Asian Cup in January 2024. "We will focus on the Asian Cup from tomorrow morning. We will be 100 percent ready when our first match kicks off."

South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that two straight wins in the World Cup qualifiers will definitely boost the team's confidence in the Asian Cup. "We have two targets. The first is to qualify for the World Cup, and the second is to win the Asian Cup," he noted.

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