SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea coach Uli Stielike has recalled Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min ahead of next month’s 2018 World Cup qualification games against Qatar and Iran.
Stielike allowed Son to miss the 1-1 draw with Syria earlier this month to focus on his career with Tottenham in the Premier League.
For Son and Spurs, it was a successful move. The attacker scored four goals in the subsequent three league games, including a double in the 2-1 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday that lifted Spurs into second spot.
“If you look at his performances of late, you can see that Son is playing well,” Stielike said Monday. “His confidence is high and he is having a positive influence on his team overall.”
South Korea hosts Qatar on Oct. 6 and plays Iran in Tehran five days later in important continental qualifiers.
Son joined Tottenham from Bayer Leverkusen in August 2015 but, partly because of injuries, struggled to settle in his first season in England and was restricted to four goals.
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino said Son just needed more time to adjust.
“It is difficult for all the players who come from outside England because the Premier League is the toughest league in the world,” Pochettino was quoted as saying. “After one year and the summer he is a different person – he’s more mature and he knows the league and he’s settled in fantastically now. When a front player scores goals it is easy for him to settle.”
Two other Premier League players have been included in South Korea’s squad. Swansea City’s Ki Sung-yeung and Lee Chung-yong of Crystal Palace both featured in the 3-2 win over China on Sept. 1 and the subsequent draw with Syria.
The 2002 World Cup semifinalist is aiming to qualify for a ninth successive World Cup.
The top two from each of the two six-team groups in Asia qualify automatically for the 2018 edition in Russia.