“When I actually bumped into it, it seemed worthwhile.”
Na Sang-ho (FC Seoul), who stepped on the dream stage through the first leg of the 2022 Qatar World Cup group stage, said as he looked back on this tournament. He said, “Uruguayan players’ physicals were definitely good,” but “at the same time, I felt that even world-class players are nervous on the World Cup stage.” “I thought it was a fight to see who made fewer mistakes and who played more confidently,” he emphasized. On the 19th, we met Na Sang-ho, the hidden contributor to Korea’s advance to the round of 16, at a cafe near the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Na Sang-ho made his World Cup debut as a ‘surprise selection’. He also found out that he was participating on the day of the match. Even so, he said the excitement was greater than the burden. Na Sang-ho said, “I was preparing hard because I thought that if I went to the game, I had to show 120% of my skills.” He was not particularly conscious of Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), whom he had to replace. He recalled, “I thought that if I tried to play like Hee-chan, I would overdo it and the play style I wanted would not come out.”
His promise was successful. Na Sang-ho showed off a tremendous amount of activity in the air and defense until he was replaced in the 75th minute of the second half and left the ground, blocking Darwin Nuñez (Liverpool) with Kim Mun-hwan (Jeonbuk Hyundai) as the right fullback. Not only that, but he harassed the opponent by persistently digging into the right flank, where Matthias Olivera (Napoli) was holding out. He humbly said, “I just showed the movements I had learned for four years on the ground.” Regarding Olivera, who was a man-to-man opponent, he asked Min-jae Kim (Napoli), who plays for the same team as him, and prepared for the match through image training.
In fact, even before the tournament, the public opinion surrounding Na Sang-ho was not very good. He has recently shown some sluggishness in the national team and the league, raising concerns from fans. Nevertheless, fans gave him mocking nicknames such as ‘Bentupic’ and ‘Prince of Bentuho’, who were called up to the national team every time.
Na Sang-ho expressed his honest feelings about this, saying, “I was upset and ashamed.” He continued, “I thought that the only way to change the criticism and perception of the fans was to show a good performance. All I could think about was,” he said with a laugh.
Despite a big success in the first game, Na Sang-ho had to start the game against Ghana from the bench. However, he said, “I wasn’t upset at all,” and said, “It was my top priority to help the team win somehow, and I just wanted to help the team win somehow.” True to his promise, Na Sang-ho was substituted in the second half of the day and served as the starting point for Jo Kyu-seong (Jeonbuk)’s equalizer.토토
Nevertheless, he humbled himself, saying, “There are still many shortcomings.” Na Sang-ho coldly diagnosed himself, saying, “In the second half of the game against Ghana, my teammates hit a lot of shots, but I didn’t record a single shot.”
He said that he hadn’t played before Portugal, but it was an honor to be part of a historic moment. Na Sang-ho recalled, “Everything was like a dream, such as Heechan’s winning goal, watching the game between Uruguay and Ghana, and the national anthem that head coach Sergio Costa sang in the locker room after the game.”
The match against Brazil taught me a lot as a soccer player. He said, “I was amazed to see Rafinya avoiding (Hwang) In-beom’s tackle. I tried to learn those aspects one by one.” Regarding the ‘ceremony controversy’ of Brazilian players, he said, “Of course, they can be angry, but they were enjoying the stage of the World Cup as much as that.”
Na Sang-ho, who returned to his daily life, took more than 10 days of vacation until early next year. But he’s not just taking a break. He digests media interviews, various events, and builds his body in his spare time. He woke up at dawn on this day as well and did weight training. To achieve our goals for next season. Na Sang-ho said, “Personally, I want to return to the old Na Sang-ho by increasing the attack points, and as a captain, my goal is to advance Seoul to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League.”