The World Cup campaign has begun again… Bentoo, aiming to win three matches

Son Heung-min (second from the right) is smiling and talking with Kim Shin-wook (right) during an official training session on the 3rd, two days before the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian region second qualifying match against Turkmenistan. Provided by the Korea Football Association

If you are walking on a long road and come to a stop due to force majeure, it is difficult to start again. In fact, it is a fresh start. This is exactly the case with Asian countries, which are on their way to the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

The second qualifying round, which was in full swing in the fall of 2019, was stopped amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), and the schedule has since been postponed indefinitely. In the end, the remaining schedule was digested by gathering in one country and playing games instead of the existing home and away. Group H, to which Korea belongs, will start on the 5th at Goyang Sports Complex in Gyeonggi-do.

Korea, which is challenging to qualify for the World Cup finals for the 10th time in a row, is also standing in front of this new starting line. The first match will be played against Turkmenistan on the night of the 5th, followed by Sri Lanka on the 9th and Lebanon on the 13th.

It takes place on the home ground, but we cannot be relieved. This is because the mood of the national team has not been good recently. In order to maintain their performance for over two years after the spread of Corona 19, they played evaluation matches with Qatar and Mexico in September last year and Japan in March this year, but the results were not satisfactory. In particular, the Korea Football Association apologized to fans in an unusual way after losing 3-0 against Japan in March last year.

The first match against Turkmenistan is a more important match as the national team’s atmosphere is stagnant. The stagnant atmosphere of the national team can be renewed only by showing perfect performance so that fans can forget the previous three evaluation matches.

It is not a difficult task if the players only show their original skills. This is thanks to the national team as the most elite member in the second qualifying round of the World Cup after a long time. In the previous evaluation match, overseas players were unable to perform 100% due to difficulties in moving due to overseas league schedules and Corona 19, but this time, European players such as Son Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, and Hwang Hee-chan, and Chinese and Middle Eastern players such as Kim Min-jae and Nam Tae-hee were all called. . Here, even players who are showing their peak conditions in the K-League, such as Kang Sang-woo, Lee Ki-je, and Song Min-gyu, will have the strongest power that Korean football can mobilize.

Of course, the vanguard is Son Heung-min, who has been active at Tottenham this season as a world-class striker. In an online interview held before training on the 3rd, he said, “I can’t even remember when I last played in Korea. So I’m excited,” he said. Regarding the away trip to Japan, which he couldn’t participate in, he said, “There is no player I want to lose against Japan. The players did their best in that situation,” he said. “As the fans were disappointed, I will try to bring that back to my heart through these three games.”

If they win against Turkmenistan, Korea will be even closer to the third qualifying round. This is due to the fact that North Korea gave up participation in the preliminary round. At first, Turkmenistan took the first place in the group with 9 points from 3 wins, 2 losses, and South Korea with 2 wins, 2 draws and 8 points. . Among them, Korea ranks first in goal difference and loss. Thanks to the lucky lead in the group, if they win the match against Turkmenistan and add 3 points, they will be able to play the weakest Sri Lanka and Lebanon in an absolutely advantageous composition and prepare for the 3rd qualifying round with a relatively comfortable mind.

Reporter Pil-woong Seo [email protected]

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