Menu burger kingAfter only managing one goal in their opener, Japan defeated Pakistan 4-0 in the Asian Games men’s soccer tournament on Thursday and booked a spot in the last 16. But while military exemption gives all the players a better chance of a move to Europe, not all of them will take it. South Korea won gold at the 2014 Asian Games, but out of that squad, only Holstein Kiel’s Lee Jae-sung successfully made the jump to a different continent, and some of the Europe-based players in that squad have since returned to the K League.
For Korea, failure is not an option. There was severe criticism after a surprise 2-1 loss to Malaysia in the second group game when Kim heavily rotated his team, but results improved after that. Iran were defeated 2-0 in the second round and AFC Under-23 Champions Uzbekistan – seen as Korea’s biggest threat – were overcome 4-3 after extra-time in the quarters. Son couldn’t even watch the 118th minute penalty conversion from Hwang Hee-chan. Just two days later came a sixth game in 14 days, and a 3-1 win over Vietnam to earn a spot in the final against their old rivals.
And ultimately, it’s this willingness to be special — and, conversely, that unwillingness to accept the limits of what a Korean footballer should be — that has forced him to attend these 2018 Asian Games in the first place. He didn’t play for medal-winning Korean sides at the Olympics and the …READ MORE