Roll on South Korea! Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-Min and his South Korean U23 teammates took an important step forward in the Asian Games today in Indonesia. Korea got goals from Hwang Ui-Jo and Lee Seungwoo as they defeated Iran 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sonny started the match but did not get on the scorer’s sheet despite three shots and two on goal. It didn’t matter — he was still the team leader and the best player on the pitch despite not scoring today.
Korea took advantage of a couple Iranian defensive lapses to get their goals. In the first, Hwang received a nice cutback while wide open in the box to slot home the openier.
Korea’s second goal was the result of some just wonderful individual play from Lee as Korea doubled their lead and put the game more or less beyond doubt.
Son is not only the best player at this tournament, he’s considered the best player in Asia at any level right now. Consequently, he has fully embraced his role as team leader at these games, as he might just have the most to lose if Korea doesn’t come out of this tournament with a gold medal.
More from Son on what he said in the dressing room before facing Iran: "I told my teammates that we're not playing in a football match, and that we're going onto the pitch to fight a war. We're here to represent our country."— Steve Han • 한만성 (@RealSteveScores) August 23, 2018
Advancing to the quarterfinals is fantastic, but Korea is anything but out of the woods. Their next opponent on Monday is Uzbekistan, a deceptively talented squad and one that won the U23 AFC Championships earlier in the year, defeating Korea 4-1 in the process. The Uzbeks cruised through the group stage in the Asian Games, and have won all four of their games thus far, outscoring their opponents 13-0.
It’s tempting for fans to look ahead to a possible finals match against Japan, but Uzbekistan might just be the best team Korea faces in this entire tournament. Getting past the Uzbeks on Monday should give the Taeguk Warriors a huge confidence boost, but it will be an extremely stiff test.