It was only a few days ago that the Vietnamese national football team, enjoying a remarkable run of success in the Asian Games under their Korean coach Park Hang-seo, had ambitions of making it to the final. They were up against South Korea in the semis.
Park’s success has been followed closely from Korea, [reported James Pearson and Mai Nguyen for Reuters] where football fans have joked that he has “done enough” and should “stop winning” to pave the way for a Korean victory.
He has earned the nickname “Ssal-dink” in Korean, which translates as “Rice Noodle Hiddink” and is derived from a blend of the names of a popular Vietnamese dish and national hero Guus Hiddink.
Dutch coach Hiddink, with Park as his assistant, led South Korea on a fairytale run to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, which the nation co-hosted with Japan.
The tournament has also been generating a certain amount of interest in North London, where Son Heung-min, a key player in the Korean squad, wears the number 7 shirt for Spurs. That’ s because Son is due to report for military service soon – unless he qualifies for the exemption granted to victors in the Olympic and Asian Games. The same Reuters article mentioned above has a great quote from a social media post in Vietnam before the semi-final:
“We wish our boys a great performance, cool heads, and warm hearts,” Vietnam football fan Khanh Duy Phan wrote on Facebook.
“And we hope Son Heung-min enjoys his military service.”
Alas for Vietnam, and fortunately for Spurs, South Korea won the semi-final 3-1, and went on to beat Japan 2-1 after extra time in the final. Son will consequently be able to honour his five-year contract with the club, which he signed in July.
- Son Heung-min spared military service as South Korea take Asian Games gold, Guardian, 1 September 2018
- Son Heung-min to avoid military duty after South Korea win Asian Games, BBC, 1 September 2018
- Vietnam vs South Korea: clash of the coaches, Vietnam Investment Review, 29 August 2018
- Vietnam lauds South Korean coach as football ‘wizard’, Reuters, 28 September 2018