S. Korea coach hopes sparkling Son doesn’t lose his fizz

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min celebrates scoring their third goal. (Reuters pic)

SEOUL: With seven goals in his last four games Son Heung-min is enjoying a purple patch for Tottenham Hotspur but South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong hopes the prolific forward keeps his powder dry for this summer’s World Cup.

Son took his tally to 12 league goals for the season by scoring a double on Sunday as the London club came from behind to beat Bournemouth 4-1. The 25-year-old has also netted four times in this season’s Champions League and twice in the FA Cup.

His goals prompted Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino to say on Sunday: “Son is having a fantastic season, the best season since he arrived”.

While his flurry of goals are going down well in North London, there are concerns in Seoul that they may dry up before the Koreans face Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F of the World Cup in June.

“No player can maintain his best form all season long,” Yonhap News quoted coach Shin as saying on Monday, as he announced a 23-man squad for upcoming friendlies against Northern Ireland and Poland.

“I’m really worried that Son’s form might go down from May, with his concentration waning and him becoming physically fatigued.”

Son, who has scored 20 goals in 61 games for Korea, will be expected to shoulder the attacking burden in Russia, whether he plays out wide on the left like he does with Spurs, or in a more central role.

Wherever he plays, Shin said he had to make sure he gets the rest of the team to play to Son’s strengths.

At the other end of the pitch, Shin defended his decision to include five defenders from K League champions Jeonbuk Motors despite the side leaking goals recently.

“I think it’s unfortunate that Jeonbuk have given up so many goals despite having these national team-caliber players,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, they will still be competitive internationally because they’ve been picked for the national team on a consistent basis.”

South Korea play Northern Ireland in Belfast on March 24 before taking on the Poles in Chorzow three days later.