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Nat'l football captain Son Heung-min hopes for fans' return

All News 18:43 October 05, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- As he reported to the national football team's training camp Tuesday ahead of two World Cup qualifiers, captain Son Heung-min had just one wish.

"I'd like to play in front of fans," the Tottenham Hotspur star said after arriving at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in a video clip shared by the Korea Football Association (KFA) Tuesday.

Son won't get that wish this time -- at least not at home. South Korea will host Syria at Ansan Wa Stadium in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and the entire province, along with Seoul and its surrounding regions, remains under the toughest social distancing rules. Under Level 4, all sporting events must be held without spectators.

Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur walks toward the exit at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 5, 2021, after arriving home for FIFA World Cup qualifying matches for the South Korean national team. (Yonhap)

After Syria, Son and his teammates will walk into a hostile environment at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, where they will face Iran next Tuesday. Up to 10,000 supporters will be permitted at the stadium where South Korea have gone winless in seven trips -- two draws and five losses -- and it's safe to assume that very few, if any, of those 10,000 will be cheering for South Korea.

"I'll prepare the best I can and try to play well in these two matches," Son said.

He's fresh off a selection to the Premier League Team of the Week, after helping Spurs to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday. He assisted on a goal and forced an own goal by Aston Villa in that win. Son has three of the club's six goals so far this season.

The national team opened camp Monday, and Son was one of three Europe-based players to arrive at the NFC on Tuesday, along with Hwang Ui-jo of FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Kim Min-jae of Fenerbahce.

In this EPA photo, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after setting up a goal against Aston Villa during the clubs' Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Oct. 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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