In its first qualifying match at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the Brazilian team will face “only” the greatest Asian football player of all time.
It is this far from modest fame that Heung-min Son, the ace, captain and top scorer of South Korea, opponent of the canary team in the round of 16 of the competition, from 4 pm (today), at stadium 974, in Doha, carries .
At the age of 30, the South Korean number 7 has been in Europe since the youth teams. There were five seasons at Hamburg (three as a professional) and two at Bayer Leverkusen. Since 2015, he has played in the English Premier League, the hottest national league on the planet, and wears the colors of Tottenham.
It is true that Son is not the first Asian to play for a top shelf club in the Old Continent. His compatriot Ji-sung Park defended Manchester United, as well as the Japanese Shinji Kagawa. Another Japanese, Yuto Nagatomo, was an Inter Milan athlete. Iranians Ali Daei and Ali Karimi played for Bayern Munich.
But none of them went beyond being a simple member of the squads of these teams. The striker who leads his national team in Qatar-2022 is part of one of the most admired attacking duos in the world and shares with Harry Kane the position of protagonist of Tottenham.
Together they have scored 397 goals for the London club. And a good part of Kane’s 261 goals and the 136 scored by Son were born from plays created precisely by his offensive line partner.
The duo also spearheaded the “rebirth” process Spurs have been going through since last season, which has put the team back among England’s powerhouses. It was also their fault that Tottenham reached runners-up in the European Champions League in the 2018/19 season.
The only player born in Asia who achieved an even greater prominence than the South Korean was Paulino Alcántara. Born in the Philippines, he was a Barcelona idol during the 1910s and 1920s and is second only to Lionel Messi in the ranking of the greatest goalscorers in the club’s history (counting friendly games), with 369 goals.
The point is that Paulino, despite having worn the colors of his country at the beginning of his career, became a naturalized Spaniard and started to defend the selection of the nation where he lived his best days. As a result, he lost ties with Asia and was no longer seen as a representative of football on that continent.
Despite success in English football, Son lacks a historic international campaign. The most he has achieved so far with South Korea is the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
If you defeat Brazil and advance to the quarterfinals of Qatar-2022, this scenario will start to look different. After all, the South Koreans were among the best eight teams on the planet only on one previous occasion – they finished fourth in 2002, when they shared the organization of the tournament with Japan.
The winner of the confrontation between the five-time world champions and the team of the main star of Asia will face in the next round of knockouts the winner of Japan x Croatia, who play the other game today, at noon, in Al-Wakrah.
The Qatar Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East and features seven of the eight teams that have already lifted the cup. For the second consecutive edition, the four-time champion Italy failed to qualify and is low – in addition, Germany and Uruguay were eliminated in the first phase.
The tournament is being played at the end of the year, and not in its usual period (June and July), because of the heat in the host country during the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is the last edition of the FIFA competition with the format that has been used for 24 years, since France-1998. From the next World Cup, organized by the United States, Canada and Mexico, there will be 48 participants in the dispute for the title.
World Cup – Round of 16
03/12 – Netherlands 3 x 1 United States, Khalifa International, in Al-Rayyan
03/12 – Argentina 2 x 1 Australia, Ahmed bin Ali, in Al-Rayyan
Yesterday – France 3-1 Poland, Al-Thumama, in Doha
Yesterday – England 3 x 0 Senegal, Al-Bayt, Al-Khor
Today at 12:00 – Japan v Croatia, Al-Janoub, Al-Wakrah
Today, at 4pm – Brazil v South Korea, 974, Doha
12/06, at 12h – Morocco v Spain, Education City, Al-Rayyan
06/12, at 16:00 – Portugal x Switzerland, Nacional de Lusail, Lusail
Who will be World Cup champion? Vote!
Total of 1024 wishes