Asian Cup brawl brought South Korean team closer: Captain Son

AFP , Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

Son Heung-min said Wednesday that the Asian Cup bust-up with Lee Kang-in had brought the South Korean team closer, on the eve of a World Cup qualifier against Thailand.

South Korean national football team captain Son Heung-min speaks during a press conference before team practice sessions at Seoul World Cup Stadium. Photo: AFP

Tottenham and South Korea skipper Son dislocated a finger in a clash with Paris Saint-Germain's Lee on the eve of their defeat in the Asian Cup semi-finals last month.

Lee was widely blamed for the melee, which was triggered after Son objected to some of the younger squad members rushing off to play table tennis after a pre-game dinner.

Reports said that the 23-year-old Lee tried to punch Son, a claim the PSG attacking midfielder denies.

The incident sparked a media furore in South Korea, with reports sponsors briefly moved to drop Lee, before he travelled to London to apologise to Son in person.

Son said on Wednesday that Lee had now apologised to the South Korean squad.

"Kang-in offered a sincere apology telling team members what he did and what was wrong about it," the Spurs attacker said.

"Apologising requires courage and the team accepted the apology because Kang-in showed such courage."

Ahead of Thursday's home qualifier against Thailand and the return fixture on Tuesday, Son said the apology had given the team "momentum to unite more tightly".

"Everyone makes mistakes and learns a lot from them," said Son.

"As he is young, I hope it will make him stronger, and realise what it means to be on the national team."

Jurgen Klinsmann was sacked as South Korea coach following the 2-0 defeat to Jordan in the Asian Cup last four.

He was replaced on an interim basis by under-23 coach Hwang Sun-hong.

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