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Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan net a brace each

Posted March. 02, 2018 08:23,   

Updated March. 02, 2018 08:23


“Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspurs and Hwang Hee-chan of Red Bull Salzburg are the “role models” of local footballers dreaming of playing in foreign leagues. Both boast high levels of speed and finishing skills, proving their capacity in the European,” Shin Tae-yong, the head coach of the Korean national football team, talked about the two of his favorite Korean players.

Shin has experimented the chemistry between the two forwards since he was put at the helm of the national football team of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, and he shows a great deal of trust in the two men. The “Dynamic Duo” of the Korean football squad, Son and Hwang found a brace in their respective European league, presenting much encouraging news to Team Korea, whose preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games is in full swing.

On Thursday, Son Heung-min toiled for 67 minutes at home, netting two goals and one assist against Rochdale AFC in the first round of the FA Cup tournament. Having tied with Rochdale 2-2 last month, the Hotspurs had a rematch and trounced their visitors by 6-1. The two goals were Son’s 12th and 13th goal this season, following the latest scoring in the English Premier League against Everton FC.

While the South Korean striker converted a penalty in the 28th minute of the first half, it was not recognized as a goal, costing him a potential hat trick. “A feint in which the penalty kicker stops while running for the spot kick is categorized as an act of anti-sportsmenship,” explained an official from the Korea Football Association (KFA). “Son balked for a moment before the kick, and the referee considered as a foul, which is why he annulled the goal and showed a yellow card to Son.”

While falling short of a hat trick, Son received a rating of 9.7, the second highest among his Tottenham peers, by WhoScored.com, a European football data website. “Son Heung-min’s play was magnificent and he is a valuable player to us,” said Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. On March 17, Tottenham will have a match with Swansea City, where another Korean player Ki Sung-yueng is playing, for the quarterfinals to the FA Cup.

On the same day, Hwang Hee-chan led a massive victory of Salzburg by 7-0, scoring twin goals against SK Austria Klagenfurt for the quarterfinals to the Austria Cup. It was Hwang’s first goal in 94 days, following the single goal he netted against SK Rapid Wien on November 27 last year. Having scored his 10th and 11th goals this season, Hwang achieved two-digit scorings for the third consecutive season. “Son and I have a lot of conversation about our attacking strategies,” said Hwang. “We talk about what types of attacks work for us.”

It is expected that both Son and Hwang will be joining their national team for the upcoming tryout matches against Northern Ireland on March 24 and Poland on March 28. “Manager Shin is currently checking the conditions of Korean players playing in the European leagues,” said an official of the KFA. “He will come back to Korea after watching some of Hwang’s games.” The final squad for the tryout matches will be announced on March 12.

Yun-Cheol Jeong trigger@donga.com