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Korean-coached Indonesia advances to 3rd round in World Cup qualification

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 Indonesia's head coach Shin Tae-yong reacts during the World Cup 2026 second round qualifier Group F Asia soccer match between Indonesia and the Philippines at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 11. AP-Yonhap

Indonesia's head coach Shin Tae-yong reacts during the World Cup 2026 second round qualifier Group F Asia soccer match between Indonesia and the Philippines at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 11. AP-Yonhap

Coached by Korean tactician Shin Tae-yong, Indonesia has advanced to the third round in the Asian World Cup qualifying campaign for the first time.

Indonesia sealed their spot by defeating the Philippines 2-0 in their final Group F match of the second round at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Thanks to goals by Thom Haye and Rizky Ridho, Indonesia finished second in their group with 10 points, eight behind Iraq.

Finishing one spot below Indonesia were Vietnam, coached by Korea's Kim Sang-sik. Vietnam finished in third with six points after a 3-1 loss to Iraq on Tuesday.

From the second round, the top two nations from each of the nine groups qualified for the next phase.

Indonesia has taken big steps since Shin, former head coach for the Korean men's national team, took the reins in December 2019 for both the senior and the under-23 men's squads.

At the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup earlier this year, Indonesia reached the round of 16, their first knockout appearance ever at the top continental event.

Then in April, Shin took Indonesia to the semifinals of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup for the first time. In the tournament, which doubled as the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament, Indonesia knocked off Korea on penalties in the quarterfinals and prevented Shin's native country from qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

Shin has now taken Indonesia deeper than they have ever been in World Cup qualification.

Philippines' Dylan Demuynck, second from right, and Indonesia's Rizky Ridho Ramadhani, second from left, battle for the ball  during the World Cup 2026 second round qualifier Group F Asia soccer match between Indonesia and the Philippines at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 11. AP-Yonhap

Philippines' Dylan Demuynck, second from right, and Indonesia's Rizky Ridho Ramadhani, second from left, battle for the ball during the World Cup 2026 second round qualifier Group F Asia soccer match between Indonesia and the Philippines at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 11. AP-Yonhap

The 2026 World Cup, to be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will be the first to feature 48 nations, up from the previous 32. With that, the AFC's quota went from four direct slots with another spot available through a playoff to eight direct slots and another place up for grabs in a playoff.

The likes of Korea, Japan, Iran and Australia have been frequent AFC representatives at recent World Cups, but the expanded format will give Southeast Asian upstarts, such as Indonesia, a chance.

Also in the second round, Malaysia, with Korean coach Kim Pan-gon at the helm, finished in third place in Group D with 10 points, finishing just one point back of Kyrgyzstan.

Malaysia defeated Chinese Taipei 3-1 in their final group match Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur and needed a big win by Oman over Kyrgyzstan later in the day to have a chance to reach the next stage on a tiebreaker. Instead, Oman and Kyrgyzstan ended in a 1-1 draw, as they both moved on to the third round.

North Korea qualified for the third round as the runner-up in Group B, following their 4-1 win over Myanmar on Tuesday. North Korea finished with nine points, with Japan winning the group with 18 points.

In March, North Korea refused to host Japan for their tilt, citing concerns over infectious diseases spreading in Japan. The North asked the match be played at a neutral venue but got instead slapped with a 3-0 loss by forfeit.

In the third round, the 18 qualifiers will be split into three groups of six. The top two teams from each group will punch their tickets to the World Cup. The third- and fourth-place teams — six in total — will end up in the fourth round. They will then be divided into two groups of three, and the two group winners will qualify for the World Cup.

The two runners-up from the fourth round will face each other in the fifth round, with the winner moving on to the intercontinental playoff for the last AFC ticket. (Yonhap)



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