Uh oh. It looks like Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min and the South Korean U23 team could be in a bit of trouble in the 2018 Asian Games. After a 6-0 demolition of Bahrain in their opening match on Wednesday, the Taeguk Warriors fell to Malaysia 2-1 today in Indonesia, dropping them to second in their group.
Malaysia U23 qualify for @asiangames2018 knockout stages after two wins out of two - including defending champions South Korea.— Vijhay Vick (@vijhayvick) August 17, 2018
Nothing to play for vs Bahrain in final match.
It’s been difficult to find a lot of information about these matches on the internet, but this seems to be somewhat of a shock loss for Korea, who are the defending Asian Games champions and were expected to easily progress out of their group. Son Heung-Min didn’t play at all in their opening match against Bahrain and apparently was a second half substitute in today’s loss to Malaysia, coming into the match in the 57th minute.
Hwang Ui-jo scored his fourth goal of the tournament and got Korea’s only goal in this match, scoring just before full time. Malaysia got a brace from Muhammad Safawi.
The win secures progression out of the group for Malaysia, but Korea now needs a win or a draw against Kyrgyzstan to make sure they move on to the knock-out rounds. Kyrgyzstan... aren’t great — they fell to Malaysia 3-1 in their opening game and drew 2-2 with Bahrain, so it seems likely that Korea can at least get a result on their last group stage fixture.
We’re following an obscure Asian football competition closely because barring some other governmental deus ex machina this is Sonny’s last chance to earn an exception from his conscription to the South Korean military, something that would cut short his football career for two years while he’s in the prime of his abilities. In order to receive an exemption, Korea needs to receive a gold medal (i.e. win) the Asian Games football competition. Korea are considered one of the favorites, but as we’ve seen today, nothing in life is guaranteed.