'The best among all Asians', South Korea trust in Son against Mexico
South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong and midfielder Lee Jae-sung have hailed Son Heung-min as the best Asian player in the world and know they will need him to be at his best if they are to overcome Mexico in Rostov-on-Don.
Shin's side made a losing start to their campaign in Group F of the World Cup, as they were beaten 1-0 by Sweden in Nizhny Novgorod.
Mexico, though, stunned holders Germany by the same scoreline in Moscow, leaving El Tri in a position of strength ahead of the clash at Rostov Arena.
Son struggled to impose himself in the opening game, but Shin is hopeful the Tottenham forward will fare better against Mexico, and agreed with the assessment of a journalist who suggested the former Bayer Leverkusen star should now be considered the Asian Football Confederation's top talent.
"Yes, Son … is the best among all Asian players," the coach told a news conference.
"If you look at the Korean team, we are facing a lot of difficulties. Because we were on the defensive [against Sweden], he didn't play to his fullest ability but he is really sacrificing himself for the team and tomorrow he will be able to show more of his abilities."
Jeonbuk Motors star Lee, named the K-League's best player in 2017, called on the team to do everything they can to maximise Son's talents.
"Just the fact I am playing with him is a great honour for me personally," he said.
"We have to help him so that he can shine more, become aggressive, attack and really show his full ability. We must all sacrifice ourselves for the team."
Germany thumped Mexico 4-1 on their way to winning the Confederations Cup last year, and Shin feels Die Mannschaft may not have expected to be examined so thoroughly by Juan Carlos Osorio's team, a mistake he does not intend to repeat.
"Germany probably thought they would be an easy opponent," he said.
"They were probably thinking back to the history of [matches between] Germany and Mexico, Germany probably thought they would be able to win easily and Mexico probably prepared thoroughly."
Of his own preparations, Shin said: "It's for me to find the weak spot in the team, we've been doing that for several months and I can't disclose it to you.
"We did explain the strong points and weak points of the Mexican team. We are fully prepared for tomorrow."