After being frustrated at the championship threshold nine years ago, a golden opportunity came again. After this game, the team is about to advance to the final. At this time, the ace’s performance is important, but it has not exploded yet. Can world class Son Heung-min’s cool field goal come from the match against Australia.꽁머니
The Korean national team will play Australia in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup at Al-Zanub Stadium in Al-Wakra, Qatar, at 0:30 a.m. on the 3rd (Korea Standard Time).
Son Heung-min aiming for zero, 0 field goals for 4 games
South Korea won the last round of 16 against Saudi Arabia after much thought. It was a loss due to the first run in the early part of the second half, but it was revived by Cho Kyu-sung’s dramatic equalizer in the extra time and Cho Hyun-woo’s save in the penalty shootout.
Klinsmann has been playing four-back since his inauguration as the Korean national team member, but he pitched a three-back tactic in the last match against Saudi Arabia. Consequently, he failed. When he returned to four-back in the early second half, the game gradually improved.
Son Heung-min, who had been paired with Cho Kyu-sung, started as a one-top player in the game alone. He struggled in the middle of the game by switching to a side winger, but failed to score even with seven shots.
Son has become a model for teammates through outstanding leadership and dedicated play in this year’s event. In the match against Saudi Arabia, Son showed a sense of responsibility by himself as the No. 1 kicker after the shootout.
However, it is regrettable that he has scored a goal in his team’s capacity. It is far from what he displayed at Tottenham Hotspur in this season. Son, who has been named the top scorer at the Asian Cup, is also lagging far behind in the competition. Iraq’s Aymen Hussein (six goals), Ayase Ueda and Akram Afif (four goals) are at the top of the list.
Son Heung-min has scored two goals in the past four games, scoring the first goal of a penalty kick in the 9th minute of the first half against Jordan and scoring a penalty kick in the extra time of the second half against Malaysia.
It is not what Son Heung-min saw when he attempted a total of 20 shots (including penalties) and has yet to score a single field goal.
Should I get rid of the pain of losing to Australia nine years ago
By playing in the match against Saudi Arabia in the round of 16, Son set a tie for the most Asian Cup appearances by a Korean player. With a total of 16 matches tied with Lee Young-pyo, Son will rise to the top if he plays in the match against Australia.
However, Son does not have fond memories of the Asian Cup so far. He has failed to win in all three previous championships. At the 2011 Qatar Championships, he made his first appearance at the tender age of 18, and only advanced to the semifinals by being outplayed by Japan.
The 2015 Asian Cup in Australia remains one of Korea’s goals. In the final against Australia at the time, Son scored a miraculous equalizer in the third minute of extra time in the second half when Korea was losing 0-1. But Korea had to stay in second place, giving up one goal in overtime.
At the 2019 UAE Championship, he was called into the national team from the third group match, and his physical movements were heavy, perhaps due to his excessive exercise at Tottenham. Korea lost 0-1 to Qatar in the quarterfinals, and Son Heung-min ended the tournament scoreless.
For Son, who has entered the 30th round, this could be the last Asian Cup. This match against Australia is facing the biggest crisis going to the Asian Cup final. He must be a stronger opponent than the Tajikistan-Jordan winner that he will meet in the semifinals.
Son Heung-min had a chance to repay his pain nine years ago. His last field goal at the Asian Cup was a goal he scored in the final against Australia in 2015.
In an interview ahead of the team’s training on the 1st, Son Heung-min said, “It’s too bad to bring up 2015 now, but I was very hurt at that time and I don’t want to repeat such mistakes again,” adding, “I think the goal is not here, but we have to go further. In the quarterfinals, I will try to meet the fans with better games, fun games and wins.”
Of course, he is physically exhausted from the round of 16 to the penalty shootout. It is burdensome to face Australia after just two days of rest. Australia has been undefeated until reaching the quarterfinals by banking on its strong teamwork and superior physical strength.
Above all, the biggest strength is the defense led by Harry Sutta. Only one run is allowed in this Asian Cup. On the other hand, the defense is slow. This can be a prey for Son Heung-min. Fast penetration and quickness must take advantage to break down the Australian defense.