Football

Published: Wednesday August 13, 2014 MYT 9:27:40 AM
Updated: Wednesday August 13, 2014 MYT 9:28:27 AM

South Korea hope for Leverkusen U-turn on Son

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea hope Bayer Leverkusen will release forward Son Heung-min for the latter stages of next month's Asian Games football tournament after the German side rejected a request to have him available for the entire competition.

"We received a letter from Leverkusen that Son won't be able to play in the Asian Games," the Korea Football Association (KFA) said on Wednesday.

"The KFA sent a reply back to the team asking them to allow us to have him for the last 16 and we are now waiting for a response to that."

The KFA will hold a news conference on Thursday to announce the Asian Games squad, with Lee Kwang-jong, who is coaching the team at the tournament, set to speak to the media.

The Games will be held in the South Korean city of Incheon, west of Seoul, and run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.

The football tournament is not part of world football's governing body FIFA's official calendar so club sides are under no obligation to release players to take part.

Leverkusen visited Korea in July and played a friendly against FC Seoul.

Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday that the KFA had met with Leverkusen officials during their visit and tried to persuade them to release Son for the Asian Games.

However, the German side, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season and are set to take part in Champions League qualifiers, are reluctant to let the player go.

"The team said that since that Son is important for the team they can't release him," the report said.

Son, 22, left Seoul's Dongbuk High School as a 16-year-old to join Hamburg SV's youth academy and has flourished in the Bundesliga. He moved to Bayer Leverkusen for a fee of 10 million euros (£8 million) last year.

Son was one of the few players to emerge with any credit from South Korea's woeful World Cup campaign in Brazil, scoring against Algeria in a 4-2 loss in Porto Alegre.

South Korea won the bronze medal at the last Asian Games in 2010. The have won gold three times - twice in Bangkok, in 1970 and 1978, and in Seoul in 1986.

(Reporting by Narae Kim; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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