Midfielder not wanting to get carried away with World Cup debut nearing

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) — Since making his senior international debut in September 2018, midfielder Hwang In-beom has been a fixture in the midfield corps for South Korea. One of head coach Paulo Bento’s most trusted options, Hwang is expected to make his FIFA World Cup debut in November in Qatar.

When discussing his chances of playing in the World Cup on Monday, however, Hwang chose his words carefully. He didn’t come out and say he is a superstitious type, but Hwang sounded as though he was metaphorically knocking on wood, so as not to jinx anything.
“I’ve been dreaming of playing in the World Cup, and I’ve come this far after qualifying matches and friendly matches,” Hwang said at an online press conference Monday, the eve of South Korea’s World Cup tuneup against Cameroon. “I feel like I am close to realizing that dream, but nothing is set in stone yet. I just want to stay healthy and in good physical condition until the final roster is set.”

Hwang had limited international experience in earlier age groups before Bento, immediately after taking the South Korean reins in the fall of 2018, brought the crafty midfielder into the mix. Bento has since called up other relatively unknown names on occasion, and Hwang, who has collected 36 caps, has been by far the biggest success story.

Hwang said his familiarity with the national team structure should give him an inside track for a spot on the World Cup squad.

“I know what I have to do on the national team and what the team expects from me,” Hwang said. “As long as I can take care of myself and avoid injuries, I think I can offer at least a bit of help to the national team.”

Hwang said Bento always asks him to be the bridge between the offense and the defense, and he has more often than not fulfilled his responsibilities admirably. Hwang can be counted on for a couple of long, accurate passes that will send forwards in on fast breaks and bring fans out of their seats.

Hwang said, though, it is never about himself or any other single player. Looking back on South Korea’s much-criticized 2-2 draw against 10-man Costa Rica last Friday, Hwang said he and his teammates will always win together and lose together.

“The defense doesn’t fall on our four backs and our goalkeeper. We conceded those two goals because all 11 of us on the pitch did something wrong,” Hwang said. “But we scored the two goals because we all did something well in our own positions. We want to keep creating scoring chances and trying to bring out the best in one another.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency