Fans rejoice as the national soccer team opens the camp with open training

Football fans attend an open training session of the South Korea men's national team at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi province, on May 30, 2022.  (Yonhap)

Football fans attend an open training session of the South Korea men’s national team at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi province, on May 30, 2022. (Yonhap)

PAJU, May 30 (Korea Bizwire)South Korea began preparations for a quartet of men’s soccer friendlies in June with an open training session on Monday, the first of its kind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head coach Paulo Bento gathered his 28-man side at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul in Gyeonggi province, on Monday afternoon to open the training camp with four games on the horizon.

South Korea host Brazil first on Thursday, followed by Chile on June 6, Paraguay on June 10 and Egypt on June 14.

The Korean Football Association (KFA) opened the first day of training for the 300 lucky – not to mention nimble – fans who earned their seats through online registration on Saturday.

The previous open training session for the men’s national team was held in December 2019 ahead of the East Asian Football Association E-1 Football Championship hosted by South Korea.

When the pandemic broke out, NFC was blocked for fans and for a long time also for the media.

Some restrictions remained. Fans were required to wear masks and were not allowed to ask for autographs or selfies with players to limit direct contact with them.

Members of the South Korea men's national soccer team laugh during an opening training session at the National Soccer Center in Paju, Gyeonggi province, May 30, 2022.  (Yonhap)

Members of the South Korea men’s national soccer team laugh during an opening training session at the National Soccer Center in Paju, Gyeonggi province, May 30, 2022. (Yonhap)

Still, these 300 fans seemed perfectly happy to be here at the NFC, filming or photographing their favorite players during their 90-minute session.

Many came with signs prepared, most of them for the team’s captain and most popular player, Son Heung-min. A handful of fans yelled, “I love you son Heung-min!”

Son’s popularity soared even further this month after the Tottenham Hotspur star became the first Asian player in Premier League history to win the Golden Boot.

Whenever he had the opportunity, Son would turn to smile and wave at the fans on the sidelines.

Son and his teammates fed mainly on their fans’ upbeat mood in a generally light-hearted session.

In the middle of a passing practice, Son broke up laughing when a particularly eager fan called out the name of fellow Premier League player, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Hwang Hee-chan.

After the session ended, Son stopped in front of the fans and posed for photos for a few minutes.

“It’s been over two years. I’m so excited to train here in front of the fans,” Son said ahead of the session. “I know we can’t really get close to them (because of the COVID-19 protocols) but hopefully we’ll make it a fun day for everyone.”

(Yonhap)


Leave a Comment