Son Heung-min (Tottenham), the “captain” of the South Korean national soccer team led by Jürgen Klinsmann (GER), reportedly prevented South Korea from being in a disadvantageous goal position during the penalty shootout in the round of 16 at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 against Saudi Arabia.
Klinsmann’s men will face Australia in the Asian Cup quarterfinals at Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, Qatar, on March 3 at 0:30 a.m. ET.
Prior to the match, the Korean national team held an official training session at the Al Egla Training Center in Doha, Qatar, at 10 p.m. on the 1st to prepare for the match against Australia. Only 15 minutes were available to the media.
Before the training session, an official from the Korea Football Association told reporters behind the scenes of the penalty shootout against Saudi Arabia.
Klinsmann’s men played Saudi Arabia to a 1-1 draw in regulation time in the round of 16 at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on March 31, forcing extra time.
Even in extra time, the game was not decided, and the match went to a penalty shootout. This is where captain Son Heung-min’s senses shone through.
According to an association official, the referee unilaterally decided that the penalty shootout would be held in the left goal, relative to the headquarters. This was because a replay camera was set up on that goal.
However, the area behind the goal was densely packed with Saudi fans. The Korean players were at a disadvantage, and the technical area was far from the Korean side.
Son Heung-min insisted on a coin toss to determine the goal, as per the rules, and the referee agreed, allowing Korea to take the penalty kick from the right goal, where there were fewer Saudi fans.
Although very few, there were also Korean fans behind the goal, which gave them a slight advantage.
The Koreans were able to take advantage of the small number of fans behind the goal to advance to the quarterfinals with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over the Saudis, thanks to a brilliant save by Cho Hyun-woo (Ulsan HD).
The entire squad participated in training. Even Moon Sun-min (Jeonbuk Hyundai), who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, showed up for team training.
After a light run, the team split into groups. The field players played rondo, while the goalkeepers warmed up with the goalkeeping coach. Sun-min Moon worked separately with the physical coach on recovery.
The team’s training atmosphere was as good as ever. The players practiced with smiles on their faces and joked around. In particular, Park Yong-woo (Al Ain) passed to Son Heung-min, but the ball was a bit high. Son Heung-min felt a little uncomfortable and shouted, “Hamt (hamstring)!” and warmed up in one of the most cheerful moods during the tournament preparation.
Earlier in the day, Klinsmann said at the official pre-match press conference at the Main Media Center (MMC) in Doha, Qatar at 6 p.m., “I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s match. “They’re a good team, but they’re well-prepared and we’re going to play well,” he said, adding, “Australia has been in good form and producing results in this tournament, so we’re expecting a tough match.