After a recent run of three consecutive games without a win (one draw and two losses), the South Korean national soccer team is gearing up for its next match.
The national team, led by Jürgen Klinsmann (59-Germany), will host El Salvador on June 20 at Daejeon World Cup Stadium in their second friendly of the month. South Korea, which reached the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in Qatar under former coach Paulo Bento (54-Portugal), is winless since switching to Klinsmann.
Following two consecutive March A matches against Colombia (2-2 draw) and Uruguay (1-2 loss), the team lost 0-1 against ‘South America’s underdog’ Peru at Busan Asiad Stadium on June 16. The result is even more disappointing as coach Klinsmann said, “June is the real start.”
But there are plenty of excuses. The team was not at full strength for the two June matches. With the exception of goalkeeper Jin Yong and the frontline strikers, there were leaks in every position. Captain Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham) was called up by Klinsmann but skipped the Peru game. He is still recovering from sports hernia surgery in London, which he underwent shortly after finishing the 2022-2023 English Premier League (EPL) season.
Despite playing through a painful season, the national team coaching staff couldn’t afford to leave him out. With so many gaps, they couldn’t afford to leave out their captain. However, playing time is a different matter. Even if the injury wasn’t serious, he still needed to play, and Klinsmann decided to give him a full rest.
With their star on the bench, the team struggled. Lee Kang-in (22-Majorca) flashed in and out of the side and the center of the second line, but overall, the team’s attack lacked heft and sophistication. Without a centerpiece, South Korea hung their heads as they realized the limitations of their grain-of-sand organization. 안전놀이터
The team will go all out against El Salvador. They can’t afford to put off a victory any longer, and their opponent is the weakest sparring partner the ‘Klinsmanns’ have ever faced. El Salvador lost a close 0-6 decision in Japan on March 15.
Barring any major injury setbacks, Son Heung-min will need to play some, if only to break the frustrating streak and test different attacking combinations. He can play multiple roles on the flanks, up front, and even as a second striker, which will give them some breathing room to utilize their resources.
Luckily, he’s not in bad shape. He went through a full training session of running, stretching, stepping, touching the ball, playing minigames, and shooting without any problems. “We’ll have to wait until the day of the game to see how I’m feeling, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to play yet,” Son said, but he’s eager to play, saying, “I want to show what I’m good at and what I like to do.”