Tottenham Hotspur’s two remaining internationals both survived tough round of 16 matches in their respective tournaments today and both players will continue on to the next round. But in one case, it was a very close thing.
Son Heung-Min and Republic of Korea advanced to the quarterfinals in the Asia Cup in a thrilling penalty shootout win over Saudi Arabia. Halftime Saudi substitute Abdullah Hadi Radif put Saudi Arabia ahead just after coming on, and the Kingdom executed a fantastic defensive performance late, holding off wave upon wave of Korean attacks. Korea broke through in the 9th minute of extra time through Cho Gue-Sung to equalize and send the match to extra time and eventually penalties. The final score was Saudi Arabia 1 (2) - 1 (4) Korea.
Son played every minute of the match and also converted a shootout penalty, while keeper Cho Hyun-Woo made two penalty saves to send Korea through. The road doesn’t get any easier for Son and Korea — they’re up against Ange Postecoglou’s Australia on February 2.
Yves Bissouma and Mali also advanced in the Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations, holding off Burkina Faso 2-1 to advance. Mali got goals from Lassine Sinayoko, and an own goal from Burkina Faso’s Edmond Tapsoba (lol). Bissouma was named to the bench but was an unused substitute; reporting after the match indicated that he felt some discomfort in his thigh and was held out as a precaution.
Mali will face hosts Cote d’Ivoire on February 3, meaning former Tottenham player Serge Aurier has a chance to send home two Spurs players in a row. That would be something.
Son and Bissouma’s continued participation means the earliest we’ll see either of them play for Spurs is home against Brighton on February 10.