SEOUL (Nov 10): South Korea’s coach Paulo Bento said on Thursday that the injured Son Heung-min would ‘of course’ be selected in his World Cup squad, but could not say whether his captain would be fit for the country’s first match in Qatar.
The Tottenham forward had successful surgery to repair an eye socket fracture suffered in the 2-1 Champions League win over Marseille nine days ago.
Son wrote on his Instagram page on Wednesday that playing in the World Cup was his childhood dream and that he ‘can’t wait to represent our beautiful country’.
Bento dismissed concerns about Son missing the World Cup, with South Korea’s first Group H game against Uruguay on Nov 24 just two weeks away.
“Of course he’s going to be selected,” Bento told reporters.
But he said Son should be given enough time to ‘recover as well as possible’.
“About other aspects, we should check and we should analyse day-by-day,” said Bento.
“Let him come. We have time to make the right decisions, and the best decisions for all of us.”
Bento said it was understandable that Son, who also played in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, would be eager to get back in action as soon as possible.
“It’s something normal from Sonny because along the process, he showed the wish and the will and the desire to come and play with the national team,” said Bento, who said he was ‘not preparing’ any back-up plans should the team’s talisman be unable to line up against Uruguay.
“This is talk about the future, and it’s the far future.
“This is not the moment.”
South Korea will also face Ghana on Nov 28, and Portugal on Dec 2, in Group H.
Son, who shared last season’s Premier League golden boot as top scorer with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, has a huge fan base in South Korea.
He is considered critical to South Korea’s chances of making it to the knockout stages at the World Cup, having scored 35 goals in 104 internationals – including nine in his last 14.
Though he is yet to lift a trophy at club level, Son led South Korea to gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. — AFP