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Spurs gain from Korea’s Asian Games victory

Son Heung-min
Son Heung-min. Source: Jan Vertonghen Twitter account

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.


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