The Korean national soccer team, led by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, drew 0-0 with Wales in an international match held at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, England on the afternoon of the 7th (local time). They suffered from Wales’ intensive defense for the entire 90 minutes and were unable to resolve the issue properly.
I met Son Heung-min after the game. He said, “It was not an easy game as the opponent was defensive, and there was a lot to learn.” At the same time, he explained, “It’s not perfect yet. We’re moving slowly. I feel responsible for not being able to show a good performance. It will definitely get better in the future.” He also shared his honest thoughts on the recent controversy over Director Klinsmann’s ‘working from home and appearing on TV broadcast panels’.안전놀이터
◇Next is a Q&A with Son Heung-min
- Thank you for your hard work. How was the game overall?
▶ Actually, I don’t think there were any easy games on the road. We were aware that Wales were preparing a five-back. We came out so defensively, but it was definitely not an easy game, and I think we definitely had a lot to learn from this game. I think there were a lot of areas where we needed to improve, and although there were definitely some good parts, I think it was a game where there were a lot of areas that needed further improvement.
-It wasn’t easy to break through the opponent’s tight defense.
▶ In fact, in the case of European teams, if you play quite tightly, I don’t think it’s easy to break through the defense of any team.
At the same time, I think I need to work more closely with many players. In these difficult situations and in isolated spaces, each movement can create space for other players or create a chance for me. I think I need to think about these things a lot, think about how I can help the team, and prepare for the next step.
-Today’s game is Coach Klinsmann’s fifth game. The director says he continues to improve. What direction does he seem to be going with?
▶As you can see, I think it’s actually not perfect. It certainly seems like we are moving forward slowly, step by step, and many soccer fans naturally expect a completed image and we would like to show them what we are good at, but the players are also concerned about not being able to show that image yet. I feel a lot of responsibility for that part.
But I think it will definitely get better. Four years ago, when Coach Bento was there, we trained in a completely different atmosphere. The result was a different atmosphere. I think it was a good atmosphere due to the results. Rather than the process being important, the games moving forward and the remaining competitions are more important, so I think it is important for the team to continue to show progress slowly.
-Does it feel like you repeated the same attempt five times? Or do you feel like it just keeps getting better?
▶First of all, I think it’s clear that we’re constantly trying new things. Because in the first two games, we used 4-4-2, and in today’s case, we also used 4-1-4-1. Various things are tried and various players are recruited. In a way, they are being given an opportunity.
In this regard, the coach clearly likes young players and gives them opportunities. I think you are going through a process where your role is to look at the player rather than the current results. I think the director definitely has his own thoughts as well. I hope players understand that opportunities don’t always come naturally.
Obviously, the sport of soccer is very cold-hearted. In the case of the national team, I think it is right to enter the stadium with a little more special feelings because it is truly a place that all players dream of.
There is still a game against Saudi Arabia and there are obviously important games ahead starting in October, so I think fans will have no choice but to think about the results.
From the perspective of soccer fans, I definitely sympathize with them, and in that regard, I feel very sorry for not being able to give them a win. If you don’t feel impatient and just wait for us, this atmosphere will change. I think soccer changes a lot due to atmosphere and confidence. I hope I can ride that atmosphere well.
-What do you think of the fans’ criticism of Coach Klinsmann’s situation as captain?
▶Actually, I don’t know. From a player’s perspective, rather than asking questions like that, I think we need to think more about how we can unite our team a little more tightly. Obviously, both soccer fans and I are Korean. Also, as someone who has played for the Korean national team for a long time, I think I clearly understand the position of soccer fans. Because it’s our country. Because my arms are bent inwards, I can’t help but think about Korea more.
I don’t think the coach is unconditionally right, nor do I think soccer fans are unconditionally right.
I think the director definitely has that kind of experience and is active in many different fields. Soccer continues to change, and I think the coach is also studying more about how modern soccer can be applied well to Korean soccer. I’m sure you’re thinking about how to do these things to help Korean soccer a lot. As a soccer fan myself, I think it’s natural for soccer fans to think that way, but I’m sure the coach has his own thoughts. I think there are definitely some things that will help.
-Has the Saudi game become more interesting? Has it become burdensome?
▶That made it more fun. In some ways, it seems like all soccer players are burdened with it. However, if you don’t like this pressure and can’t bear this pressure, I think you are at a level that you cannot play for the national team. I’m sure these players also think that the pressure they are feeling right now is a good pressure in some way.
It’s the same for me, but it’s clear that they’re an Asian team and a good opponent, and Saudi Arabia is also a team that caused a huge upset at the World Cup, so I think we need to prepare well.
I hope that we can repay soccer fans with a little bit of fun, good games, and wins, so that they can shake off some of their doubts about our national team.
-I think we need to gain more experience in European expeditions.
▶They are definitely good opponents. These teams also play games against strong European teams and win in order to advance to the World Cup. Therefore, I believe that there are no easy games, and the more such games there are, the more helpful it actually is. The more you play in more difficult situations, the more durable you will become.
If you keep bumping into it, seeing it get hit a little, and seeing it break, you will definitely realize, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do it this way.’ Well, I think a game like today was definitely a game that helped us a lot and gained a lot of weight.
Just as other good teams face difficult games when they come to Korea, we also face difficult games when we come here. These are games that will definitely be helpful not only for the Korean national team but also for the future of a soccer player’s life, so I think the most important thing is to think of them as good experiences and not forget these feelings.