Key midfielder ready to tackle challenges, have fun in World Cup debut

DOHA– South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom is one of 39 players to have made an international debut during head coach Paulo Bento’s regime, which began with a friendly against Costa Rica in September 2018.

Since then, no player in that group has played more matches than Hwang’s 37. The 26-year-old has evolved from a little-known, second-division player to South Korea’s steadiest presence in midfield. He was one of a few no-brainer choices for the 26-man World Cup squad for Bento.
Ahead of his World Cup debut in Qatar later this month, Hwang said Tuesday he couldn’t wait to tackle challenges ahead.

“I am sure there will be difficulties, but I won’t let them affect my confidence or courage,” the Olympiacos FC midfielder said at a press conference before South Korea’s training session at Al Egla Training Facility in Doha. “I am looking forward to enjoying my experience here. It’s been four years since I played my first international match, and I’ve obviously grown so much. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve been ticking off boxes on my check list.”

South Korea’s first Group H match will be against Uruguay on Nov. 24. Hwang said there should be plenty of time for his team to prepare for a match that few think South Korea can win.

“We’ve all been working hard for the past four years, and if we can keep this up over the next nine days, I am confident we’ll put on a good show in our three group matches,” Hwang said. “I’ll try to be the link between the offense and the defense, the same way I’ve always been. I need to work on some finer details, and I’ve got guys that I trust all over the pitch.”

Uruguay sit 14 spots above South Korea in the FIFA rankings at No. 14 and boast some impressive talent in the middle. Hwang will have his hands full from the very first match.

“One-on-one battles are going to be important, but we also have to be strategically prepared to neutralize their top players,” Hwang said. “They are a strong team but you don’t play football on paper. We want to prove that we can be competitive against the best players of the world.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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