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Asian Games 2018: Son avoids military service as South Korea strikes gold

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An ecstatic Son Heung-Min after defeating Japan in the final
Pranav Byakod
ANALYST
Modified 02 Sep 2018, 01:43 IST
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They have done it! South Korea's footballers are officially exempt from any military duty with their entertaining 2 - 1 win in Jakarta. Tottenham fans will be delighted to know that star player Son Heung-Min, who joined the club from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015, will continue to represent the club after the prospect of losing him for the next couple of campaigns vanquished on Saturday.

The South Korean government has made it mandatory for citizens to participate in military service for two years sometime between the age of 18 and 35. There are, however, exceptions to this rule for Korean athletes, as receiving an Olympic medal or gold medal in different tournaments (like the Asian Games) for the country results in an exemption on any military service for them.

Son had previously asked the Premier League and Tottenham Hotspur permission to leave for Southeast Asia, which was granted. He was handed the captain's armband and asked to lead the team to glory by new head coach Paulo Bento.

South Korea was drawn into a difficult group alongside Malaysia, Bahrain, and Krgystan but their confidence after knocking previous World Cup winners Germany out of the competition in the latest edition meant they were targeting gold. They managed to finish second in the group although they had the same number of points as Malaysia won the encounter between the two sides.

In the knockout stages, South Korea eased past fellow Asian World Cup representatives Iran 2 - 0, before scraping past Uzbekistan 4 - 3. On the 29th of August, Cibinong saw South Korea strike three in the back of the net while Vietnam only managed to score one. This meant Son and co. were only one game away from glory.

Japan, who impressed one and all during the World Cup, were to be South Korea's finalist. The Samurai Blue were looking to win gold after putting in thrilling performances in the tournament, but captain Son had other things in mind as he assisted both of Korea's gold to officially spared his team from military service. Korea ended up champions, beating Japan by two goals to one.

Published 02 Sep 2018, 01:43 IST
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