From the 2022 FIFA World Cup record in Qatar, we can get a glimpse of the possibility of Korean football’s propaganda in the 2026 North and Central America competition. The protagonists are Kim Min-jae (26, Naples), Hwang In-beom (26, Olympiacos), Cho Kyu-seong (24, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), and Lee Kang-in (21, Mallorca).
On the 9th (Korean time), the global sports media ‘ESPN’ published a report of the 6 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member countries participating in the Qatar tournament under the title of ‘Which Asian team will rise to the highest level in the 2026 competition’ on the 9th (Korean time). Predicted results after 4 years. ESPN predicted that Korea would have Min-jae Kim, In-beom Hwang, Kyu-seong Cho, and Kang-in Lee at the center, saying, “Considering the performance of young players who appeared in this tournament, the long-term prospect is bright.”
Data compiled by European soccer statistics sites such as ‘Squawka’, ‘Opta’ and ‘Fbref’ support ESPN’s persuasiveness.
Kim Min-jae won 13 out of 14 contests while playing a total of 269 minutes in 3 games. He won 10 out of 11 aerial duels and 3 ground ball contests. 메이저놀이터 The success rates were 90.91% and 100%, respectively. Kim Min-jae suffered a right calf muscle injury in the first group match against Uruguay. This also caused him to miss the match against Portugal in the third leg. Even though he was not in the best condition, Kim Min-jae recorded an overwhelming matchup success rate, proving that he was the core of Korean soccer defense.
Hwang In-beom also wrote an amazing record. He made a total of 24 forward passes in four games, placing him in ninth place overall. It is ranked higher than Bruno Fernandez (Manchester United, 10th) and Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, 14th), who are considered top midfielders. In addition, the total distance Hwang In-beom ran during 4 games was 45.04 km, the highest in his national team. In this tournament, Hwang In-beom played an active role in both offense and defense based on his vigorous activity. He is expected to play the role of an engine in the midfield in North and Central America tournaments as well.
Cho Kyu-seong, who emerged as the best star of this tournament, showed his true value even more clearly in his records. Cho Kyu-seong recorded 21 aerial contests, ranking second overall in this category. It is a more notable achievement in that he played three fewer matches than Youssef Ennesiri (22 times), who took first place, and Nicholas Otamendi (21 times), who took third place.
Lee Kang-in, who is regarded as the future of Korean soccer, also showed great stats in this tournament. Lee Kang-in scored 1.84 in goal chances created per 90 minutes (G-CA/90), ranking first among all players participating in the tournament. G-CA is a number that indicates the frequency of contributions to the situation immediately before the scoring situation and one step before it. That means Lee Kang-in created a situation that could lead to 1.84 goals per game.
These four people led Korea to the round of 16 from the first tournament in their lives. As he enters his prime four years later, expectations are rising as to how he will perform in the next North and Central America competition.