South Korean footballer Heo Yong-joon said Monday he has high expectations for the national team debut in the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers this month.
Heo was a surprise pick by head coach Uli Stielike who announced his squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against China and Syria last week. South Korea will face China on the road on Thursday, before hosting Syria five days later for their Group A contests in the final Asian qualifying round.
South Korean footballer Heo Yong-joon speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport before flying to China on March 20, 2017, three days before the national football team's World Cup qualifying match against the Chinese national team. (Yonhap)
Heo, who plays for the Jeonnam Dragons in the top-tier K League Classic, said he is ready to show a good performance if he gets the chance to play on the pitch.
"Since I've got a good opportunity, I will display a confident performance," Heo said to reporters at Incheon International Airport before heading to China. "I'm not a player who feels tension. I feel no pressure."
Heo has represented South Korea at the U-20 level, but this is the first time for him to join the senior national team. Stielike previously said the wing forward shows impressive performance with the ball.
Although he hasn't played alongside national team regulars, Heo said he isn't concerned about building chemistry with them.
"I played with Hwang Hee-chan and Kim Dong-jun in the U-20 team before, and I know Ji Dong-won well since he is my high school alumnus," he said. "After I was selected to the national team, Ji called me and said he will take good care of me."
South Korea and China will clash amid deepening tension between their governments over Seoul's decision to host a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery. Although many people expect an intimidating atmosphere at Helong Stadium in Changsha, China, that could affect the South Korean players, Heo said he is ready to overcome the challenge.
"I don't think much about 55,000 (Chinese) fans there," he said. "I did a lot of imagery training, so I think we'll get a good result."
Heo, however, said he will not focus on showing off his skills as he wants to put teamwork first on the pitch.
"I will never be arrogant just because I'm on the national team," he said. "I will build combinations with my teammates and give my best for the team." (Yonhap)