Thursday, January 26

With Son Heung-min making a gradual begin to the brand new season, do South Korea want a Plan B for the FIFA World Cup?


After the lofty requirements he set for himself in his Golden Boot-winning Premier League marketing campaign of 2021-22, it might not be too harsh to say that Son Heung-min has had a gradual begin to the brand new season.

With six video games down within the Premier League, and an extra one within the Champions League, the usually-prolific attacker is but to open his account this time period.

Before the appraisal turns into overly important, it should be mentioned that Son has loads of credit score in his account — not simply from final season’s 23-goal haul within the league however all through his whole seven earlier years with Tottenham.

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After all, each ahead will inevitably encounter an identical drought (Spurs teammate Harry Kane famously appeared allergic to scoring in August beforehand). It should be famous that Son continues to supply his facet lots in different areas even when he’s not banging within the objectives in the intervening time.

As such, Tottenham supervisor Antonio Conte will proceed to be affected person together with his star man, figuring out he’ll come good finally.

But time isn’t one thing that’s in abundance for the opposite man that can be intently monitoring Son’s performances.

Just three months out from the FIFA World Cup, South Korea coach Paulo Bento can be watching on with slight concern if not main alarm.

Given the truth that the Taegeuk Warriors have been handed powerful checks in Group H in opposition to Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana, it’s no secret that they’ll want their talismanic captain to be firing on all cylinders if they’re to face any likelihood of reaching the Round of 16.

It can solely be factor to have a world-class expertise of Son’s ilk at their disposal, however the flipside to that could be a probably unhealthy overreliance on a person participant.

So do South Korea have sufficient choices in reserve as a Plan B?

Firstly, it ought to be remembered that regardless of his prolific goalscoring methods, Son is way from a standard out-and-out striker that serves because the fulcrum in assault.

For South Korea, that position often falls to Hwang Ui-jo — who lately joined Olympiakos on mortgage after struggling relegation to Ligue 2 with Bordeaux final season.

With 23 objectives in Ligue 1 to his title over the previous two years, Hwang’s strike price in France is wholesome sufficient, as is his worldwide tally of 16 objectives from 47 caps.

Nonetheless, there are nonetheless doubts if Hwang has the power to single-handledly win a sport for the Taegeuk Warriors — particularly at a World Cup — so who else is there?

It has been no secret that Bento’s choices are severely restricted in that No. 9 place.

The Portuguese tactician has always plumped for Cho Gue-sung as Hwang’s deputy even when the 24-year-old was plying his commerce in South Korea’s second-tier Ok League 2. In defence of each, Cho has been a constant scorer however is unproven away from the home stage.

Other hanging choices are both equally inexperienced like Kim Gun-hee and Cho Young-wook, or have been fully ignored — Joo Min-kyu by some means persevering with to await his likelihood at worldwide degree regardless of changing into the Ok League 1’s first native prime scorer in 5 years together with his spectacular 22-goal haul.

So if the strikers should not shaping up as an satisfactory back-up plan, which different areas of the sector may probably produce another match-winner to Son?

Given he additionally at the moment plies his commerce within the Premier League, Wolves attacker Hwang Hee-chan is the obvious candidate.

The 26-year-old has proven glimpses of the attacking potential that noticed him first rise to prominence alongside Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino at Red Bull Salzburg, though he’s but to ascertain himself as an everyday starter at Molineux.

Lee Jae-sung, now into his second season taking part in within the Bundesliga for Mainz, is one other Europe-based member of Bento’s squad that would present a star flip within the attacking third, whereas Nam Tae-hee — who started his skilled profession in France — may also provide a artistic spark even when he’s not essentially the most illustrious of names within the Taegeuk Warriors roster.

Yet, when it comes to a real sport changer, maybe the standout candidate lies a little bit additional behind in the midst of the park — midfielder Hwang In-beom.

An attention-grabbing profession that noticed his first transfer overseas take him to the MLS with Vancouver Whitecaps then led to him rising as one in all South Korea’s brightest prospects after joined Rubin Kazan, though the current problems in taking part in for a Russian crew have since seen him transfer on to Olympiakos alongside Hwang Ui-jo.

While he arguably does his greatest work as a deep-lying playmaker, the presence of the extra defensive-minded Jung Woo-young has seen Hwang In-beom typically carry out a box-to-box position for the Taegeuk Warriors — one which he has confirmed equally adept in as he faucets on a previously-unseen offensive skillset.

Still, given he’s solely 25 and nonetheless discovering his toes in European soccer, it might be an excessive amount of of an ask for him to step up and fill Son’s footwear ought to the necessity come up.

Then once more, it’s going to all the time be close to inconceivable to face in for a world-class expertise.

Perhaps South Korea will nonetheless must hope that Plan A works out on the World Cup, and there’s undoubtedly nonetheless sufficient time for Son to begin firing once more earlier than their opening tie in opposition to Uruguay comes round on Nov. 24.

Barring that, Plan B may simply require all of the aforementioned options to affix forces to fill in for undeniably world-class high quality that simply can’t be singlehandedly changed.


2022-09-12 10:46:32

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