Son, you've got an attitude problem

SEOUL • South Korea national football coach Uli Stielike has slammed the attitude of Son Heung Min, despite the player earning rave reviews for his match-winning performances for Tottenham in the English Premier League.

He rebuked the 24-year-old, who has scored four goals in his last two league games as Spurs rose to second in the English Premier League table, for his "problematic" behaviour.

"As many people have already seen from the stands or on television, I think his behaviour away from the field can be problematic," warned Stielike on Monday, even as he selected Son as his first-choice striker in a 23-man squad for World Cup qualifiers against Qatar and Iran next month.

The German hinted that Son, and others, could be dropped if their behaviour did not improve.

"Unless he gets his act together and changes his attitude, (I will drop him)," the coach was reported as saying by Yonhap news agency. "All players have to be careful."

During a World Cup qualifier against China earlier this month, Son was substituted in the final moments of the match as Korea clung on to a 3-2 lead.

Visibly frustrated, he kicked at a water bottle as he left the field.

The coach then embraced him and shared a few words, but the player turned and kicked the ground in frustration.

In June, Son apologised after throwing a towel towards the bench after being substituted during a 1-6 friendly defeat by Spain.

Stielike said the problem of indiscipline was not confined to Son, and he questioned the attitude of some other Korean players who had recent public spats with their club managers.

Lee Chung Yong criticised his Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew in an interview with a South Korean news website late last season and was subsequently fined.

Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung Yueng also refused to shake hands with his Italian coach Francesco Guidolin after being benched during a defeat by Southampton earlier this month.

"This is not a good attitude", said Guidolin.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Son, you've got an attitude problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe