Klinsmannhoe has announced that Hong Hyun-seok (KAA Gent) has been ruled out of the squad for the World Cup Asia qualifiers due to a shin injury.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced in a press release on Saturday that Hong Hyun-seok has been ruled out of the squad due to injury and Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk Hyundai) has been named as his replacement.
Jürgen Klinsmann’s men’s national team will face Singapore at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in the first match of Group C of the 2026 World Cup (co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States) Asian qualifying tournament. The team then travels to Shenzhen, China, on Sept. 19 to face China in the second leg at 9 p.m. on Sept. 21 at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center. South Korea is drawn in Group C with China, Singapore and Thailand. South Korea is looking to qualify for its 11th consecutive World Cup, and the two-game series is the first step on the road to Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Ahead of the match, Klinsmann once again called up Hong Hyun-seok, who has been playing for Belgium this season. Born in 1999, Hong came up through the German lower leagues and Austria’s LASK Linz before joining Gent in the 2023/24 season, where he scored four goals and provided four assists in 18 games, establishing himself as a top-flight midfielder in the Belgian league, a league that is brimming with talent.
His performances at Gent have made him the future of the national team’s midfield. After making his A-League debut in a friendly against Peru in June, he was called up to the national team on a regular basis, and in September, he was part of Hwang Sun-hong’s U-23 team that won gold at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
In the first game of the tournament, against quarterfinal hosts China, he scored a stunning left-footed free kick early in the first half to silence the 50,000 fans in the stadium. Afterward, Hong put his hands over his ears and performed a “deafening” gesture to drown out the roar of the Chinese crowd. “The stadium was like a library after the goal,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd.
With Klinsmann’s recognition cementing his place in the A team, Hong is expected to take part in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Qatar in January 2024, but he missed the final A match of the year due to injury. He will focus on rehabilitation for the remainder of the year and will attempt to rejoin the Klinsmann in Qatar in two months.
“Hong Hyun-seok felt discomfort in his left shin area before the official training on November 15, so he went to the hospital for a mandatory team test and was diagnosed with a small fatigue fracture in his left tibia,” the KFA said, explaining the reason for his exclusion from the national team. 캡틴토토 도메인
“It is not a serious injury and he is able to play, but based on the medical team’s judgment that initial management of a fatigue fracture is important, the exclusion was decided to give him a rest to prevent further injury.” He will be released from the squad after watching the Singapore match.
The KFA announced that Park Jin-seop joined the national team on July 15 as a replacement for Hong Hyun-seok. Born in 1995, Park shows off his versatility as a center back and defensive midfielder for Jeonbuk. He was named to the K League 2 Best 11 as a defensive midfielder in 2021 with the Daejeon Hana Citizens, and to the K League 1 Best 11 as a center back in 2022.
Park also joined Hwang Sun-hong as a wild card alongside Seol Young-woo (Ulsan) and Baek Seung-ho (Jeonbuk) to compete in the Hangzhou Asian Games, where he reached his first Taegeuk mark. During the tournament, Park played in all six games, except for the third game of the group stage against Bahrain, and helped the team win the gold medal. In particular, he impressed the nation with his bandage fight against Japan.
Park could make a monumental A-match debut if he is called up to play against Singapore or China. An injury to fellow Asian Games winner Hong Hyun-seok has given Park his first call-up to the A team, but it will be interesting to see if he can make his debut.
It’s interesting to note that Hong Hyun-seok’s place is not filled by a player from the same position, but by defender Park Jin-seob. Klinsmann has only selected three center backs for the two games, Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), Kim Young-kwon, and Jung Seung-hyun (Ulsan). All three are quality defenders who could excel in Singapore and China, but they are also subject to injury or poor form, so the lack of center backs could be debated. In addition, Kim Min-jae has recently fallen out of favor at Bayern Munich, raising the possibility of having to play another defender in the event of a comfortable lead in Singapore or China.
By taking this opportunity to pick another central defender, Klinsmann is acknowledging his error in judgment and cutting out a risk factor.