Thailand disappointed to face Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in at World Cup qualifiers

By Hoang Nguyen   March 14, 2024 | 06:30 pm PT
Thailand disappointed to face Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in at World Cup qualifiers
Son Heung-min (L) and Lee Kang-in celebrate a goal for South Korea against Australia in Asian Cup on Feb. 2, 2024. Photo by AFP
Thai newspaper Siam Sport expressed disappointment when South Korea called up stars Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in to the national team for the World Cup qualifiers despite their brawl at the Asian Cup.

South Korea and Thailand will clash in two games at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on March 21 and 26 in Seoul and Bangkok. The two games are highly important for both teams to excel in group C.

South Korea's roster for the games includes Son and Lee, which surprised some observers as the duo was expected to be disciplined for the fistfight they got in on the sidelines of the Asian Cup tournament earlier this year.

"Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in will still play for South Korea against Thailand in the World Cup qualifiers. These two are still key players of South Korea national team despite the scandal at the 2023 Asian Cup," Siam Sport wrote.

The fight between Son, 31, and his 23-year-old teammate Lee occurred during dinner on Feb. 5, one day before the squad's 0-2 defeat to Jordan in the cup's semifinal. Son reprimanded a group of young players, including Lee, for making loud and disruptive noises while playing ping-pong in the national team's dining room.

After being provoked by Lee, Son grabbed his shirt. Lee is said to have thrown a punch toward Son. Although it didn't connect, Son's finger was dislocated when other teammates try to stop the fight.

When the story broke on Feb. 14, the media and fans called it the biggest scandal in history of South Korea national football team.

Although the two reconciled when Lee flew to London and apologized to Son on Feb. 21, many in the Thai media believed that they would not get a call up to the national team this month.

If they had not gotten the call, it would have been a great advantage for Thailand, as their chances of winning will be higher without having to face the two Korean stars.

In another article, Siam Sport explained that Lee was still called up after coach Hwang Sun-hong helped resolve the dispute between Son and Lee.

"South Korea needs high-quality players for the games against Thailand in March, so these two still get to play despite questions from the media," Siam Sport added.

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