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German-based S. Korean footballers excited about World Cup

German-based S. Korean footballers excited about World Cup

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Published : 2014-01-02 15:06
Updated : 2014-01-02 15:06

South Korean footballers plying their trade in the top-flight German league said Thursday they're excited about the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, adding they will try to build good momentum in the second half of their European season.

Son Heung-min, a dynamic scorer for Bayer Leverkusen, and Park Joo-ho, a steady defensive back for Mainz 05, wrapped up their mid-season winter break from the Bundesliga and flew back to Germany on Thursday. The second half of the season there will begin on Jan. 24.

At Incheon International Airport, Son told reporters that he would like to ratchet up his World Cup preparation over the next five months or so and become a dangerous player for South Korea's opponents.

South Korea has drawn Belgium, Russia and Algeria in Group H. In a recent interview, Algerian winger Sofiane Feghouli said Son would pose a major threat to defenses. The 21-year-old South Korean said he appreciated the compliment.

"I'd like to put more fear into opponents," Son said. "I hope to start playing even better in Germany and do what I am supposed to do as a professional player."

Son is tied for second on his team with seven goals so far, as Leverkusen ended the first half in second place at 37 points, seven behind the defending champ Bayern Munich.

Son, who will be counted on to lead the South Korean attack at the World Cup, said he will take extra care to avoid injuries this year.

Son also said he's not concerned about individual players from South Korea's World Cup opponents.

"Football is not an individual sport," he said. "Belgium, Algeria and Russia are all good teams, and we can't afford to relax."

Where Son will look to wreak havoc on opposing defenses, Park, 26, will try to hold his ground against talented attackers on the other end.

The defender joined Mainz 05 from Swiss club FC Basel last year, and played in every game of the first half.

Park gave himself a pat on the back for the solid start to his German career.

"I am satisfied with how my season has gone because I've played every game so far," he said. "Since this is a more talented league (than Switzerland), I had to make some early adjustments with the tempo of the game. But I can give myself 70 to 80 points (out of 100)."

Park has been a fixture on the national team in recent matches, but he refused to take anything for granted.

"I won't make the World Cup squad unless I keep playing well for my pro club," Park said. "If I can stay healthy and continue to play the way I have, I think things will work out OK."

Joining the two veterans on the Germany-bound flight was Ryu Seung-woo, a 20-year-old midfielder who joined Bayer Leverkusen last month on a loan from South Korea's Jeju United.

Ryu has yet to play a game for the Bundesliga side and told reporters he was looking forward to his new venture.

"I am nervous and excited at the same time," he said. "I will look at this as a valuable learning experience."

He said it was an "honor" to be on the same club as Son and added he believes he will have his share of chances to play.

"I am not really anxious about scoring goals at this point," Ryu said. "The focus is to improve myself while there. I may be small in stature (at 172 centimeters), but I think I can use speed and agility to my advantage." (Yonhap News)

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