Striker Son Heung-min on Monday blamed himself for South Korea’s 1-0 defeat by Sweden in their World Cup opener, saying he did not do enough to help lift his teammates in their Group F opener.
Son is regarded as the only world-class player in the South Korea side and he felt a burden of responsibility given his profile from the English Premier League.
“I’m really disappointed with my own performance. I feel I should be the one who makes things happen for my teammates, but I didn’t play well,” Tottenham Hotspur forward Son told reporters. “It didn’t go to plan and I just didn’t play well.”
Son started on the right side of a three-man attack, but was largely anonymous as his team did not manage a single effort on target.
“We forwards have to [take] responsibility for this. When we won the ball, we still had too much distance left to go forward,” he said, looking crushed and sighing often as he answered questions in both Korean and English.
Overall, it was a disappointing performance that left South Korea, with games to come against Mexico and Germany, on the back foot.
“It’s pity that we didn’t get a good result. We knew it was important to not surrender a goal first,” Son said. “If we conceded one, we’d have to score two, so we played very cautiously. We had all worked hard to prepare for this match. We have to accept this result and reorganize ourselves for Mexico, but they played really well to beat Germany. They were quick, but [upsets] like that sometime happen in football. If we can be mentally strong we could do the same, but the World Cup is no easy stage.”
South Korea play Mexico in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday before meeting reigning world champions Germany on Wednesday next week.
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