South Korea held by Thailand in first game of post-Klinsmann era

Son Heung-Min scored first for South Korea but Thailand managed to equalise before after the half. Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images

South Korea were held to a 1-1 draw by Thailand in Seoul in the second round of Asia's preliminaries for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday in their first game since Juergen Klinsmann was sacked after a disappointing Asian Cup campaign.

Son Heung-Min had put the home side ahead three minutes before the break when he side-footed home from eight yards out, but Supanhat Mueanta levelled from close range in the 61st minute.

The result denied interim coach Hwang Sun-hong victory in his first game in charge, although the South Koreans still lead Group C by three points from Thailand at the halfway point after China were held to a 2-2 draw by Singapore.

The top two finishers in each of the nine groups advance to the next phase of qualifying, where Asia's eight guaranteed qualifiers for the finals in the United States, Canada and Mexico will be determined.

Wu Lei scored twice for China as new coach Branko Ivankovic made his debut in the dugout, but Singapore fought back with goals from Faris Ramli and Jacob Mahler to claim their first point in the group.

Group B leaders Japan picked up all three points from their meeting with North Korea, Ao Tanaka scoring after 81 seconds as Hajime Moriyasu's side secured a 1-0 win to claim their third victory.

The Japanese have nine points from three games and lead Syria by five points after Hector Cuper's outfit were held to a 1-1 draw in Myanmar.

Kyrgyzstan sealed a 2-0 win over Taiwan in Group D despite playing 66 minutes with 10 men due to Said Datsiev's sending off for a second yellow card while Indonesia defeated Vietnam 1-0 in Jakarta in Group F.

Akram Afif scored twice as Asian champions Qatar defeated Kuwait 3-0 in Doha to maintain their perfect start to the second round of the continent's preliminaries.

The win moves the Asian Cup holders five points clear at the top of the group standings, with India in second after a 0-0 draw with Afghanistan.

Reigning Asian Player of the Year Salem Al-Dawsari scored the only goal as Saudi Arabia won 1-0 against Tajikistan in Riyadh to move on to nine points in Group G, five ahead of the Tajiks and Jordán, who won 3-0 against Pakistan.

Oman ensured that three teams are on six points at the halfway point in Group D by handing Malaysia their first loss of the preliminaries with a 2-0 win over Kim Pan-gon's side in Muscat.

Iran thrashed Turkmenistan 5-0, with defender Hossain Kanaani scoring twice, to take Amir Ghalenoi's team on to seven points and up to the Group E summit, where they are level with Uzbekistan, who defeated Hong Kong 2-0.

Sultan Adil scored 18 minutes from time to maintain the United Arab Emirates' winning start with a 2-1 victory over Yemen in Abu Dhabi and they now lead Group H by three points from Bahrain, who had a 5-0 win against Nepal.

Australia defeated Lebanon 2-0 in Sydney to open up a five-point gap at the top of Group I, with Palestine cruising to a 5-0 win over Bangladesh in Kuwait City to move into second.

Iraq picked up a third win in a row in Group F as Mohannad Ali's 84th-minute strike secured a 1-0 victory over the Philippines and the Gulf side lead the standings ahead of Indonesia.