S. Korea denies on-pitch rift between players in Bolivia tuneup

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Leogang (Austria), June 8 (IANS) South Korea on Friday denied rumours of a rift between two national football team players after they appeared to be exchanging heated words during their World Cup tuneup against Bolivia.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Son Heung-min and Jung Woo-young having a fierce argument during Thursday’s match against Bolivia in Innsbruck, Austria, is a “misunderstanding,” reports Yonhap news agency.

After South Korea were held to a goalless draw by Bolivia at Tivoli-Neu Stadium in Innsbruck on Thursday, some South Koreans fans pointed out that there was a dispute between Son and Jung.

Near the end of the match, Son was spotted speaking to Jung, who then replied back to his teammates with a frowning face. Kim Young-gwon, who was standing between the players, appeared to be holding back Jung.

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Such actions brought rumors in the online football community that South Korea is falling apart. The KFA, however, denied that there was a serious verbal lashing between the players.

“In a free kick situation before the final whistle, Jung was supposed to pass the ball to Son, but they couldn’t execute it well at the right time,” a KFA official said. “Son later told Jung with a smile it would’ve been better if he kicked the ball a little late.”

The official said Jung, a defensive midfielder playing with Vissel Kobe in Japan, was not mad at the Tottenham Hotspur forward.

“Jung told Son that he thought Son was going to make a run when he kicked the ball,” the KFA official said. “The reason why Jung frowned was that he was physically tired as the match was nearing an end.”

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The KFA said both Son and Jung are playing down rumours of the on-pitch dispute.

“The two players are not taking the situation seriously, thinking it’s just one of those occasions.”

South Korea are in Group F at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with Sweden, Mexico and Germany.

–IANS

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