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Son Heung-min glad to join 'motivated' teammates for World Cup qualifiers

All News 18:43 August 31, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- After belatedly joining the national team training camp for World Cup qualifying matches on Tuesday, South Korean captain Son Heung-min could rest assured that he won't need to give any pep talk.

South Korea will face Iraq on Thursday and then Lebanon next Tuesday to kick off the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

South Korean captain Son Heung-min arrives at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 31, 2021, for training camp ahead of South Korea's World Cup qualifying matches, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Head coach Paulo Bento opened camp on Monday, but Son, who scored the winner in Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 victory over Watford on Sunday, only arrived at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul, Tuesday afternoon.

And he checked into the NFC confident that South Korea will be ready for whatever challenges they may encounter.

In this AFP photo, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates his goal against Watford during the clubs' Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Aug. 29, 2021. (Yonhap)

"The final round will be difficult, but I think everyone here is really motivated," Son said in an interview clip provided by the Korea Football Association. "I believe they all understand the importance of these matches. But we can't do everything by ourselves, and we're going to need all the support we can get from our fans. We'll do our best on the pitch."

Son will enter these matches in fine form, with two goals in three Premier League matches so far this season.

And he will finally have a countryman in the top English competition this season. On Sunday, Wolverhampton Wanderers acquired forward/midfielder Hwang Hee-chan on a loan deal from RB Leipzig for the rest of this season, with an option for a permanent transfer next summer.

South Korean midfielder Hwang Hee-chan arrives at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 31, 2021, for training camp ahead of South Korea's World Cup qualifying matches, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Hwang was introduced to home fans at Molineux Stadium before Wolves' 1-0 loss to Manchester United. Though Wolves remain without a win or a goal after three matches, Hwang said he felt "positive vibes" around his new club.

"I am looking forward to playing for my new club, but I will put that aside for now and focus on the next two matches for the national team," Hwang said. "We have to win these first two matches (of the final round) and put ourselves in a good position going forward."

In this AFP photo, South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan, the latest signing by Wolverhampton Wanderers, waves to the crowd ahead of the club's Premier League match against Manchester United at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton in England on Aug. 29, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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