Before he left to take part in the Asian Games, Son Heung-Min apologized to his Tottenham teammates. He felt guilty about leaving them at the start of their season for a tournament that he normally wouldn’t play in.
If Sonny returns to North London with a military exemption on the way, then it’s safe to say the trip will have been worth it.
South Korea booked their place in the final of the Asian Games today when they beat Vietnam 3-1. Son didn’t score, but he contributed an assist as his teammates continued their clinical finishing.
A 3-1 win for South Korea against Vietnam books their place in Saturday's final where they will face either Japan or UAE! pic.twitter.com/b3RZvL5RtZ— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 29, 2018
Lee Seung Woo opened the scoring just seven minutes into the match when he emerged from a sea of defenders to fire the ball past the Vietnamese keeper.
Hwang Ui-Jo has been the star of the Asian Games so far, and he added another goal to his competition-leading tally. Son received the ball outside the box and only took two touches to lob a perfect through ball ahead for Hwang. The Gamba Osaka striker did the rest and South Korea went up 2-0.
The Koreans got a third via Lee Seung-woo, but things got tricky when Vietnam desperately tried to get back into the game. The pressure was on when they scored a free-kick with 20 minutes remaining. The Vietnamese side peppered the Korean goal with chances, but Cho Hyun-Woo stood tall just as he had in previous games and in the World Cup.
The final whistle sounded and Sonny and his team could celebrate. Their dream result of being exempt from South Korea’s military conscription laws is now just one win away from being a reality.
The final will be on Saturday at 7:30 AM EST (12:30 GMT). The United Arab Emirates and Japan are about to kickoff in the other semifinal to determine who will meet the Taegeuk Warriors in the Championship match.
UPDATE: Japan have won. They beat the UAE 1-0 today to advance to the finals. They are South Korea’s last hurdle.
Japan are typically one of the powerhouses of the region, but they sent a U-21 side to prepare them for the 2020 Olympics. The UAE made it out of their group despite finishing third.
Much of the footballing world has gotten behind South Korea, and specifically behind Son Heung-Min. It would be so cruel for such a talented player to have his career significantly sidetracked by military service.
Only a gold medal can qualify Son and his teammates for the military exemption. On Saturday we’ll see if they will be leaving Indonesia triumphantly, or distraught after falling at the last hurdle.