Stoke City favourite Bae Junho makes dream South Korea debut

Stoke City playmaker Bae Junho is mobbed by teammates after scoring on his senior debut for South Korea in a thrashing of Singapore.
-Credit: (Image: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Bae Junho has scored with one of his first touches in senior international football.

The Stoke City player of the season came off the bench in a World Cup qualifier away at Singapore and he didn't need long to steam onto a cut back from Park Seung-wook and fire into the net. That made it 6-0 to South Korea and they went on to win 7-0, stretching their lead to five points at the top of second round qualifying group c.

It means that Junho, Son Heung-min and Co advance to the final preliminary round of an epic process and have also qualified for the 2027 Asian Cup. They have one more match at this stage remaining, at home against China on Tuesday.

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Junho has stood out in the national junior teams, including at the under-20s World Cup just last year, but he missed out on playing in their team bidding to qualify for the Olympics in the spring because he was busy helping Stoke to stay in the Championship.

But he was called up for this senior squad at the end of the English season and is clearly proving a popular member of the squad, taken under the wing of Tottenham captain Son. He was mobbed by teammates when he scored, even if the result was already beyond doubt.

Fans held up signs declaring their love for Junho alongside the placards that were expected about Son, with one supporter telling Goal: "I originally came to like Korea after seeing Cho Kyu-sung. He was not called up to the national team this time. Now, I am a big fan of Bae Jun-ho. I have been rooting for him since the under-20s World Cup."

Coach Kim Do-hoon had talked about Junho's "aggressive dribbling" as he explained why he had been summoned for duty.

Stoke sporting director Jon Walters said this week: "Junho couldn’t speak English when he first arrived and needed a translator so imagine a year in when he’s settled – and, for me, he’s a phenomenal player who will play at the top level, hopefully with Stoke."

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