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Tottenham attacker Son Heung-min off men's national team for March matches

All Headlines 10:32 March 14, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- Struggling Tottenham Hotspurs winger Son Heung-min has been left off the South Korean men's national football team for two matches scheduled this month.

Son was conspicuous by his absence on the 23-man roster announced Monday by head coach Uli Stielike.

On March 24, South Korea will host Lebanon in Group G action in the second Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. South Korea have already clinched the top seed in the group and will advance to the next and final round of the regional qualification.

South Korea will then travel to Bangkok to face Thailand in a friendly match on March 27. The match was scheduled last week after a World Cup qualifier between South Korea and Kuwait, set for March 29, was postponed indefinitely, with Kuwait still serving FIFA sanctions.

FIFA let South Korea set up another match in lieu of the qualifier, and South Korea will face Thailand for the first time since 1998.

Some Europe-based South Koreans have struggled to get off the bench with their respective clubs, and Stielike had previously said he hoped to use the two contests in March to keep such players sharp.

While Stielike called up Crystal Palace midfielder Lee Chung-yong, who has also played sparingly for his Premier League side, he decided to do without Son this time.

The attacker sat out the Spurs' most recent league match Sunday, a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Stielike made few other changes from the squad that defeated Myanmar and Laos last November, but he brought forward Lee Jeong-hyeop back to the mix. Lee, once an unheralded player, emerged last year as an unlikely offensive threat for Stielike but missed the latter portion of the season after suffering a serious facial injury last August.

He will join FC Porto forward Suk Hyun-jun and Seongnam FC striker Hwang Ui-jo on the attack.

Al Rayyan midfielder Koh Myong-jin and Gamba Osaka defender Oh Jae-suk were named to the national team for the first time.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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