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Son Heung-min vows to overcome opponents' tight marking in int'l football

CHORZOW, Poland -- South Korean attacking ace Son Heung-min will be the primary target for opponents when he is on international duty, but the Tottenham Hotspur man has claimed that he is ready to overcome tough challenges.

Son, who has netted 18 goals for Spurs this season, is one of the 23 players who have been called up for South Korea's friendly matches against Northern Ireland and Poland. South Korea suffered a 2-1 loss to Northern Ireland on Friday and are scheduled to face Poland on Tuesday.

Against Northern Ireland, Son started as left winger but couldn't show his firepower like he displayed for Spurs. The 25-year-old, however, said it's not his goals that matter when it comes to the national team action.

"If I don't play well, it's important to set up my teammates and help them," Son said Monday at a press conference at Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, Poland, the venue of the friendly match with Poland. "I can't always score goals, but this team has other players who can score."

Son Heung-min (Yonhap)
Son Heung-min (Yonhap)

Son refuted claims that his international performance isn't impressive as his club performance because he is more tightly marked by opponents.

"I think it's an excuse to say that tight marking is the reason," he said. "I know I have to overcome such challenges to reach the next level."

Son said the South Korean players are determined to collect a victory against Poland after they suffered a painful 2-1 loss to Northern Ireland.

"We all know what kind of performance we need to show for this match," he said. "In order to have competitiveness at the World Cup, we need to play a good game against strong opponents."

Son is one of the players who faced Poland in a friendly match in 2011. Son was a second-half substitute in that match, where South Korea and Poland played to a 2-2 draw in Seoul.

"I still feel the same, but back then, every single match for South Korea was important to me," he said. "It was a precious experience, and I enjoyed playing in it."

Son, who had stints at Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg in the German Bundesliga, said he is aware of Poland's star players that he met in Germany. Son moved to the English Premier League in 2015.

"Back when I was in the Bundesliga, I watched and learned from (Robert) Lewandowski," he said. "Arkadiusz Milik, who was my former teammate at Leverkusen, is also a dangerous player with his left foot, and Lukasz Piszczek is also a good player." (Yonhap)