“Did you purposely avoid Japan?” What is Son Heung-min’s response to the ridiculous question of foreign correspondents?

January 28, 2024 | by

“There is speculation that Korea did not win on purpose to avoid Japan. What do you think?”

In fact, it is a question that a foreign correspondent asked Son Heung-min.

The Korean national soccer team, led by coach Jürgen Klinsmann, will face Saudi Arabia in the round of 16 AFC Asian Cup 2023 at Al-Rayyan Education City Stadium in Qatar at 1 a.m. on Saturday (Korea time). Korea ranked second in Group E with one win and two draws in the group stage.

In the match against Malaysia, which was ranked 130th in the FIFA rankings, Korea had a hard time. Knowing Korea too well, Klinsmann was not agile in responding to Kim Pan-gon’s tactical response. In the end, Korea lost a point in extra time, resulting in a 3-3 draw.

라바카지노 South Korea led the way with Jung Woo-young’s first goal in the 21st minute of the first half. However, it faced a crisis by conceding two goals. Lee Kang-in saved South Korea in the 37th minute of the second half when the team was losing 1-2. Lee Kang-in’s shot in a free kick situation scored a picturesque trajectory, breaking the net. South Korea made it 2-2 and escaped the defeat crisis.

When Son Heung-min scored a penalty kick in the 49th minute of the second half, I thought Korea had won. However, Korea, which was attacked by counterattack, allowed an equalizer just before the end of the 60th minute of the second half.

If Korea had ranked first in the group, it would have been more likely to meet Japan in the round of 16, and Iran in the quarterfinals. However, as Korea ranked second, it would have relatively easy matches to receive, including Saudi Arabia in the round of 16, and Australia in the quarterfinals. Some argued that Korea did not win on purpose because it expected Korea’s performance.

In fact, in the mixed zone after the game, a foreign correspondent asked, “There is speculation that Korea did not win on purpose to avoid Japan. What do you think?”

“No, that’s not true,” Son looked puzzled and drew the line. Regarding the question’s intention, Son made a strong denial with his facial expression. His pride in being evaluated a level lower than that of Japan as the captain of the Korean national team looked hurt.

“It was an exciting game. Whoever you meet in the round of 16, you have to win. You have to have fun in the game. It will be a tough fight with Saudi Arabia. There is no easy team,” Klinsmann said, refuting that he did not avoid Japan.

It is not true that Korea avoided Japan. However, it is clear that the performance of the three group matches was below expectations, causing such misunderstanding. It is also true that Son Heung-min was not able to have a head-to-head match with Japan, the strongest team in Asia, at a major championship during his prime.


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