I’m really happy to finish well (against Tottenham Hotspur) and come away with a good result.”
Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) and Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) faced off in the 12th round of the 2023-24 English Premier League (PL) on November 11th, a day that has been dubbed the “Korean Derby”. Tottenham scored the first goal, but Wolverhampton pulled off a miracle in extra time to win 2-1.
Spurs, who were in first place, quickly dropped to fourth place with their second straight defeat. Wolverhampton, who secured three valuable points at home, moved up to 12th. They are nine points clear of the relegation zone and 18th-place Luton Town.
The 23-man Taegeuk Warriors, including Hwang Hee-chan and Son Heung-min, will return home to prepare for the first leg of Group C of the 2026 North American World Cup Asia Second Qualifying Round against Singapore at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on June 16.굿모닝토토 도메인
Their respective form is not bad. Hwang is seventh in scoring with six goals and two assists. Son Heung-min is third with eight goals and one assist. It feels like a bit of a lull, but it’s definitely a good record considering he’s also battling with the responsibility of being captain.
Jürgen Klinsmann favors infinite rotation in the attacking two. We saw a lot of this in the four trials in September and October. Hwang Hee-chan and Son Heung-min are both important pillars of the second line. Up front, Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City), Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan), and Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic) are all available until the 14th, so it could be a nail-biter in Singapore.
Hwang Hee-chan will have to switch positions with Lee Jae-sung (Mainz 05) and Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) in the second line to trouble the Singapore defense. Against Tottenham, he sent a crucial shot wide of the post, but his good movement created a number of chances that led to the win.
Hwang will be looking to transplant his hot streak to the national team. Speaking to reporters at Mokdong Sports Complex on Wednesday, Hwang said, “I played with Son Heung-min for a long time in the national team, so it was new and special to meet him head-to-head (in the Premier League). Now it’s the World Cup qualifiers and it’s important. We will have good synergy,” he said, predicting a strong chemistry.
There were also words of reassurance for ‘Tottenham and national team captain’ Son Heung-min, who said, “We didn’t talk much because we went straight to the airport (after the game). But I thought Heung-min might have been a little upset because his brother was the captain,” he said, adding that he understood the loss.
The team had three training sessions to prepare for Singapore, including the first day of the call-up. “We don’t have a lot of time. We’re going to have to take it day by day and try to put it together as a team,” he said, indicating that the focus will be on performances that deliver both content and results.
Speaking to reporters prior to the call-up, Klinsmann referred to the 6-0 victory over Vietnam in October and said, “When you play a team that’s down defensively, a team that’s at a different level and quality than us, you have to have tempo and rhythm from the start. If you don’t find your rhythm until the second half when they come down, it’s difficult. What upset me against Vietnam was that we missed about three or four chances (in the first half). If you don’t take advantage of the chances when they come, you won’t get them again,” he said, demanding a quick first goal.
Hwang Hee-chan understood his captain’s demand. He said, “Many players are in good form for the home game. We will have a better effect on each other. If we do score a goal, I think we’ll try to show the best we can, not just one or two,” he said, predicting goal fireworks.
Hwang In-beom (Tsrvena Zvezda) vowed to show the national team what he gained in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and how opponents in the Serbian league will defend when they see Tsrvena Zvezda.
“(The Serbian league) has a lot of really good players physically. When they play against my team, they’re tough, and there are a lot of teams that drop back a lot defensively, so I’ve had that experience,” he said, promising to show them how to play Singapore and China, where they’re expected to “defend first and attack later.
Above all, the four UCL matches against Manchester City (England), Leipzig (Germany), and Youngbois (Switzerland) have been a motivation for him to reflect. “The UCL, along with the World Cup, is the stage that all soccer players have wanted to play on since I was a kid. Now that I’ve experienced it, I know I wanted to play at UCL. Man City and Leipzig have a lot of internationally recognized players. It’s a stage where I learned how players in my position play the game,” he said, vowing to bring his learning to the national team.
In addition to Hwang, Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), and Oh Hyun-kyu (Celtic) have all experienced the UCL this season. Kim has already clinched a spot in the round of 16, while Lee Kang-in, who scored his debut goal for Paris Saint-Germain against AC Milan, is still in contention. Oh Hyun-kyu is struggling to get his first win, but he made the squad after finding the net in the Scottish Premiership (SPFL) against Aberdeen.
Lee Jae-sung, Hwang Eui-jo, Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan), and Hong Hyun-seok (Gent) also joined the squad after a month in goal for their respective clubs. Hong Hyun-seok also played lightly in the Europa Conference League (UECL). Korea’s Moon Sun-min (Jeonbuk Hyundai) also scored in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) and FA Cup. With everyone’s feet on the ground, it will be interesting to see what kind of results they can produce.