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AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Korea Republic's Son Heung-min vows to raise game against Lebanon


Suwon: Korea Republic captain Son Heung-min is determined to impose himself on proceedings after a disappointing draw in their opening game in the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar when Paulo Bento's side take on Lebanon at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Tuesday's Matchday Two tie.

The Taeguk Warriors will be aiming to belatedly pick up their first three points of the campaign after they were frustrated by a resilient Iraq defence in a goalless draw at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday, with Tottenham Hotspur star forward Son and his teammates unable to unlock a determined rearguard effort from the West Asians.

Their attacking options against Lebanon will be further hampered by the news that Al Duhail midfielder Nam Tae-hee has been withdrawn from the squad following a hamstring injury with a replacement not due to be named.

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It does shine even more of a spotlight on their skipper and talisman Son, who admitted he may need to be more assertive and even selfish when it comes to his personal performance on Tuesday.

"I understand the criticism that I didn't take enough shots (against Iraq), and I have to address that," Son said. "I love shooting the ball, and I have confidence in that part of the game. I'll try to be more selfish in that regard.

"Sometimes, things don't quite go the way I want them to, but I'll continue to work on it."

AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Korea Republic 0-0 Iraq

Iraq defended deep but well and proved difficult to break down with little time and space allowed for their hosts. A successful gameplan that Lebanon, who are familiar foes having featured in the same group as Korea Republic in the previous round of qualifying, will have payed close attention.

"We have to do a better job exploiting small spaces and recognising such space when we get it. We have to make quicker and stronger passes," said Son, who admitted that the lack of fans in the stadium had also contributed to a drop in intensity.

"I often wonder if football can even exist without fans. It was hard to work up any energy in an empty stadium. I miss sharing exciting moments with our fans."

The Cedars also shared a goalless draw in their opener, but they will have been far happier with their 0-0 stalemate away in Dubai that featured an impressively doughty defensive display in the second half to secure a potentially precious point.

Goalkeeper Mostafa Matar was a particular standout with several impressive saves and the Al Ahed custodian will need to be at this best once again to keep out one of the Group A favourites for a second game running.

One player who will not feature, however, will be Apollon Limassol midfielder Bassel Jradi, who the Lebanon national team confirmed has opted not to join the travelling party to Korea.

AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: United Arab Emirates 0-0 Lebanon

Lebanon have not defeated Korea Republic since a 2-1 win at the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut during qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in November 2011 when, following goals from Ali Mahmoud Al Saadi and Abbas Atwi, the Cedars finished behind the Koreans in the standings by three points.

It takes little research to recall their most recent meetings with the two sides drawn together in Group H in the previous round of qualifying.

In November 2019, the West Asians held their East Asian counterparts to a 0-0 draw in Beirut, but an own-goal and a Son penalty would be enough for a 2-1 win for Korea Republic in the return meeting earlier this year in June.


Korea Republic v Lebanon
Venue: Suwon World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Tuesday, 20:00 (UTC+9)

*Poll ends at 18:00 (UTC+8) on September 7

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