Asian Games: Son-inspired South Korea claim football gold in Indonesia to spare themselves a spell of military service
South Korea strike twice in extra-time to claim the win over Japan
As motivating factors go, the chance to avoid putting your high paid, top-flight professional career on pause to spend 21 months living in an army barracks is a pretty good one.
It proved to be all the motivation that South Korea’s men needed to claim the gold medal in football at the Asian Games in Indonesia on Saturday night as they beat Japan 2-1 in a thrilling finale.
A fabulous strike from Lee Seung-woo after some terrific work by Son Heung-min five minutes into extra-time after the two side were deadlocked in normal time, went some way to ensuring that Son and his teammates receive an exemption from military duty in their homeland.
The win allows their star players who ply their trade on foreign shores to return there without the worry of a recall.
Hwang Hee-chan doubled South Korea’s lead eight minutes later with a towering header, and a relieved Son walked away from the celebratory pile of his teammates to calmly embrace his manager Kim Hak-bum. Job done.
There were a few nervy moments for Korea as time ticked away when Japan’s Ayase Ueda grabbed one back, but Korea held on to complete the win
The win means that a calculated gamble by his employers, Tottenham Hotspur, has paid off. Spurs released their increasingly influential forward, allowing him to miss their opening four matches of the season, so that he could lead his country to gold in Indonesia and spare himself the mandatory military service he almost certainly would have had to return home for in the coming months.
Spurs didn’t fare to badly in his absence, and now the 26-year-old is free to continue his career without the spectre of an enforced spell at home.