Monday, January 30, 2023

Son Heung-min spotted with a new mask in Qatar  

Son Heung-min spotted with a new mask in Qatar  

Son Heung-min arrived in Doha on Tuesday night, prepared to begin training with the Korean national team ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

Son, according to officials, was carrying a Tottenham Hotspur-supplied face mask in his bag.

Whether Son, who underwent surgery earlier this month for one or multiple orbital fractures, will play wearing the mask, or play at all, remains to be seen, but the Korean captain arrived in Qatar with every intention of making the team.

“We’ll just have to keep monitoring it and see how I recover,” Son told reporters outside the airport. “As I’ve said before, I will do the best I can and make sure I never let people down.  

“I want to have an unforgettable World Cup with my teammates.”

Son’s eye socket was fractured when Chancel Mbemba’s shoulder struck his face in the 29th minute of a Champions League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille on November 1 at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, France.

He underwent surgery on November 4, and the Korea Football Association announced on November 5 that it was a success.

Son remained silent about the injury until November 9, when he announced via Instagram that he planned to compete in the World Cup and, if necessary, would do so while wearing a mask.

“Playing for your country at the World Cup is the dream of so many children growing up, just as it was one of mine too,” Son said in English in a post on his personal Instagram account. “I won’t miss this for the world. I can’t wait to represent our beautiful country, see you soon.”

While there was no mention of a mask in the English version of the post, the Korean version was more revealing.

“Compared to the masks you’ve had to wear for the last two years,” Son said, referencing the face masks warn during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the mask that I will wear at the World Cup will be nothing.”

Tuesday, a representative of the Korea Football Association confirmed to the JoongAng Ilbo that Son had brought a mask to Qatar.

“Son Heung-min is bringing a mask produced by the club,” the official said. “It is unknown whether he will wear it at the World Cup.”

If Son is able to return to play, he will likely do so while wearing a mask to protect the fracture, which will have been secured with a small metal plate or plates during surgery.

Son will not be the first Korean player to wear a mask at a World Cup if this occurs. Former Jeonnam Dragons and national team defender Kim Tae-young famously wore a nose guard mask during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup after breaking his nose in the round of 16 against Italy.

Yoo Sang-chul introduced Kim to two Japanese manufacturers who used a mold of his face to create Kim’s mask, which earned him the nickname “Tiger Mask” for the remainder of his career.

There appear to be no records of its composition, but it was likely made of fiberglass or a light plastic. Kim still has the mask on display in a glass case.

Son appeared in training on Wednesday wearing a mask that appeared to be of the carbon-fiber variety that has become popular in recent years.

However, there is also a possibility that Son can play without a mask.

Kevin de Bruyne suffered a similar facial injury in a Champions League game last year, but he was able to play without a mask for Belgium at the Euros two weeks later.

Son has eight days remaining to recuperate and train. Uruguay will be Korea’s first opponent at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on November 24.

Son Heung-min spotted with a new mask in Qatar  

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