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Son Heung-min joins Team Korea for Asian qualifiers

Posted November. 11, 2021 07:25,   

Updated November. 11, 2021 07:25


Son Heung-min was all smiles despite a tight schedule. He looked excited about playing in front of home fans ahead of the final international match to be held in Korea in 2021. He will be playing in South Korea’s fifth Group A match against the United Arab Emirates in the final round of the Asian qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar at Goyang Stadium at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

After joining the national team on Tuesday upon finishing his team’s scheduled match in Britain, Son did not seem to have time to take care of himself amid a tight schedule. But during a training session at the National Football Training Center (NFL) in Paju on Wednesday, Son led his teammates, making jokes to brighten up the mood in a chilly weather. After the match against the UAE, South Korea will face Iraq in Doha, Qatar on at 12 a.m. Nov. 17. If South Korea, which is in second place in Group A with two wins and two draws, beats the UAE, it will be able to face Iraq with less burden.

South Korea have 12 wins, five draws and two losses against the UAE. The match against the UAE will be held with a full audience. South Korea is having an international match with an audience in two years after the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Championship against Japan in December 2019.

The key to victory will be an opening goal. However, striker Hwang Ui-jo will miss the game due to his hamstring injury. Although Kim Gun-hee football has been selected as an alternative to Hwang, national team manager Paulo Bento is likely to deploy a formation that has one attacker (Son) as he does not like to change the starting lineup in a major game. Bento had a tactical meeting of about 40 minutes prior to the training session on Wednesday. It appears manager Bento is concerned about Son’s position and the second-line offensive positions that will support Son.

With three draws and one loss, the UAE is in desperate need of a win. The UAE is expected to employ a strategy of pushing up the defensive line and scoring on counterattacks. It is highly likely that a midfielder will man mark Son in order to prevent him from receiving passes and trip him up. In the end, the key is whether Son will be able to penetrate behind defenders. Midfielders, such as Hwang In-beom, Jeong Woo-young and Lee Jae-sung, should be able to lose defenders with quick passes and then see Son’s movements.

Jae-Yeong Yoo elegant@donga.com