September 04, 2018 12:24
The national football team, which won the gold medal at the Asian Games in Indonesia, returned home to an enthusiastic welcome on Monday. The footballers were greeted at Incheon International Airport by a crowd of cheering fans, with some young fans treating them like pop idols.
Hwang Ui-jo, wearing a big smile, was the first to appear in the arrivals lounge along with two other wild card players, Jo Hyeon-woo and Son Heung-min.
The Gamba Osaka striker has emerged as the team's hottest star. He won the scoring title at the Asian Games with nine goals in seven matches including a hat trick. Prior to the quadrennial event, he had only scored one goal in 11 senior international matches.
"I myself never expected to score as many as nine goals. The most memorable was the hat-trick goal in the match against Uzbekistan, which equalized the game when Uzbekistan was leading 3-2. It brought us together," Hwang told reporters.
When asked how he had managed to improve his scoring ability so dramatically, he said, "I just trusted that my teammates would send good passes to me and tried to be prepared."
Hwang appreciated playing with Son the most. Son made five assists during the tournament, three of them on goals scored by Hwang. "We were close when we were on the U-17 team, and we became even closer this time. I hope Heung-min will keep helping me," he said.
Fans have expressed excitement about Hwang's excellent performance, saying Korea finally has a competitive striker. They pointed out that he has everything that a good striker needs -- outstanding positioning, accurate shooting, a fast break, and the ability to link play.
Hwang will not have time to rest on his laurels, however. He will join the national team led by new coach Paulo Bento at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday and so will Jo and Son. Korea is scheduled to hold two friendlies this month -- against Costa Rica on Friday and Chile next Tuesday.
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