South Korea’s national soccer team is gearing up for two October A matches against Tunisia (Sept. 13 at Seoul World Cup Stadium) and Vietnam (Sept. 17 at Suwon World Cup Stadium).
Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s (GER) squad has been training at the National Training Center (NFC) in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, since September 9. The squad has been assembled as a final tune-up for the Asian qualifiers for the 2026 North American World Cup, which begin in November, and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, which kicks off in Qatar next January.
Captain Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham) is no exception. Fresh off a 1-0 away win over Luton in the eighth round of the 2023-2024 English Premier League (EPL) on Sunday, the Tottenham captain is on his way home to prepare for the two games.
With six wins, two draws, and 20 points through eight rounds of play, the Spurs are far from relaxed. They’re hoping that their mainstay and captain, Son Heung-min, will return from the A-Match week in one piece.
Here’s why. He’s not in the best shape. He has a groin problem. He’s been playing with his thigh wrapped in thick tape to prevent injury, and Tottenham manager Enzi Postecoglou, who admitted that “he’s not 100%,” has been taking him off midway through the second half to help him recover.
But Klinsmann’s stance was clear. Speaking at a press conference organized by the Korea Football Association on Monday, Klinsmann said, “If you look at the national team training, no one wants to rest. Everyone wants to play a lot of minutes. Even Son Heung-min will want to show a good performance in the domestic A match,” he said, adding, “Overseas fatigue is inevitable. We can adjust the amount of training, but we will not rotate them.”스포츠토토
Son Heung-min’s reaction was not too different from Klinsmann’s. “My body is getting better and better. It’s an honor to be in the national team and I’m always happy. I don’t know what (Klinsmann) has in mind, but I’ll check my body and talk to him. First of all, I want to control my physical condition well and play good and fun soccer.”
Nevertheless, there is no denying that Son needs to be properly managed. It’s not a ‘privilege’. The captain’s longevity is crucial for Klinsmann, given the long road ahead to the North and Central American World Cup. This means that he has to ditch games that don’t matter.
This was the case against Vietnam. Unlike Tunisia, a potential World Cup opponent, the Vietnamese have little to play for in terms of FIFA rankings and maintaining their current form. But for Klinsmann, who welcomed the match with great enthusiasm, saying, “We need to improve our ability to break through tight defenses in preparation for the Asian Cup,” he can’t afford to give Son Heung-min a break.