Korea Looks to Continue on High Note with Win Over Panama

  • By Seok Nam-jun

    October 16, 2018 11:24

    Korea is set to square off against Panama in a friendly in Cheonan, South Chuncheong Province on Tuesday evening. It will be the fourth friendly under new manager Paulo Bento, who took the helm of the national team in August.

    In the previous three matches against Latin American football powers, Korea beat Costa Rica 2-0, drew with Chile 0-0 and defeated Uruguay 2-1.

    This has created great momentum for the Korean squad, building on the stunning 2-0 victory over world No. 1 Germany in the group stage at this year's FIFA World Cup in Russia and a gold medal performance at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

    The sport is enjoying reviving popularity, and tickets for the matches have sold out.

    Panama, which is ranked 70th in the world compared to Korea's 55th, comes off a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Japan last week. But the Central American team has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, and qualified for the World Cup in Russia.  

    Son Heung-min and his teammates train at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Sunday. /Newsis

    Bento is unlikely to make a notable change in his lineup for Tuesday's match, as it is important to keep the momentum going and it will be his last chance to field Son Heung-min this year.

    Son has devoted much of this year to the national team, playing in qualifying rounds and group stage of the World Cup and the Asian Games. In return for his participation in the Asian Games, the Korea Football Association agreed with Tottenham Hotspur that Son will not be called for international matches in November when Korea is scheduled to play two friendlies against Australia and Uzbekistan. 

    Son, who has not yet scored a goal for the Spurs since the start of the new 2018-2019 season and missed two penalties against Costa Rica and Uruguay, apparently wants to boost his confidence and form before returning to England.

    "There would be nothing better than a victory in my last match of the year as part of the national team. I want to enjoy the game, put on a good performance and win it at the end," he said.

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