[OP-ED] Son Heung Min is the Right Man For the Bento Era
Jay Yim, Sept. 14, 2018, 12:01 p.m.
South Korea played their second game with Paulo Bento as coach on September 11 against Chile. Despite a scoreless draw, many are speculating that the "Bento Era" is beginning, along with the "Sonny Era".
Over the international break, it was confirmed by Ki Sung Yeung that Paulo Bento named Son Heung Min as South Korea's captain. Ki said that he agreed that it was the right time for "Sonny" to be named captain in order for him to lead the squad through the the entire 4-year 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.
There have been many criticisms of Son Heung Min: He tries to hard to make things happen for himself, he is selfish with the ball and makes poor decisions when he shoots the ball, he doesn't trust his teammates well enough to pass the ball when they are in a much better position to find the back of the net, he has bad body language and is found getting frustrated when he cannot score and even being a shadow of a player when he is at Spurs.
However, when Son was first given the captain's armband, things started to look different.
For example, back when South Korea faced Germany before they exited the 2018 World Cup and Son scored the fateful goal, he immediately ran over to his teammates. Although it is a minor detail, it still showed that he did care for his teammates and that it was a team effort, not him doing it on his own.
Then at the Asian Games which recently concluded, Son was once again asked to captain the U23 squad. Things didn't start off well when the team suffered a loss against Malaysia 1-2 and many people didn't believe in Son Heung Min or the team. The team cameback with a 1-0 win over Krygzstan where Son scored the only goal off a corner kick.
Son Heung Min had stepped up as leader and planned a meeting with the squad to figure out what could be done to help the entire squad play better. After the meeting, Son's leadership paid off and Korea vastly improved their play throughout the whole tournament and claimed the Gold Medal.
Another moment of change we see was in the quarterfinal of the Asian Games soccer event against Uzbekistan. In extra time, a penalty was awarded to South Korea, but instead of Son Heung Min taking the penalty, Hwang Hee Chan stepped up to take it. Hwang had a frustrating summer and Son Heung Min giving Hwang to take the penalty might have helped him get a confidence boost because in the finals, Hwang was the one who sealed the victory for his country.
Finally, the last moment we see from Son was during the Costa Rica friendly match. It was clear that Paulo Bento gave Son the role of playmaker of the offense. His job was to drive the offense forward. He drove at the defense at every chance he could and looked for the right passes such as when he played the through ball to Nam Tae Hee.
In addition, when Son was subbed off, he was seen signaling to his team that there was only 10 minutes of play left and gave a little fighting spirit for the team as he handed off his armband.
The moment Son received the captain's armband, his character changed almost immediately and started to play the role of a good leader, instead of showing his usual selfish and poor plays. Paulo Bento also knew that when he gave Son Heung Min the armband once again. Son Heung Min and Paulo Bento will take South Korea to new heights and achievements than ever before. I look forward to more of this "duo" lashing out victories for the country.