Korea 4:3 Uzbekistan in OT / Hwang Ui-Jo Scorches in Asian Games Quarterfinal

위바와 묵티 스타디움(치카랑, 인도네시아)/ 2018 제18회 자카르타-팔렘방 하계 아시안게임/ U23남자대표팀/ 남자 아시안게임 대표팀/ 16강전/ 이란 vs 한국/ 황의조 득점, 김문환, 손흥민/ 단체/ 골 세레머니/ 사진 곽동혁

There are defining moments in Korean football history. Korea v Germany may have been the most recent high profile shocker of a moment in a weird and wild World Cup, but this Asian Games football tourney today produced some of their own fireworks. Should Korea win gold, and with it, coveted military exemption, this game will be long remembered as one of Korea’s toughest and rockiest in the gauntlet that is the knockout stage.

Few would have anticipated Korea struggling in the group against traditional minnows like Malaysia, but the confidence-shattered squad regrouped, a Son Heung-Min strike against Kyrgyzstan got them to the Round of 16, followed by a team effort with Hwang Ui-jo’s strike followed by an absolute golazo by Lee Seung-Woo to bring us to this juncture in time: a pivotal quarterfinal match against an impressive Uzbek side.

Shockwaves still reverberating after the overtime whistle. Absolute relief amidst joy as Korea, who went up early, fell behind in the 2nd half, only to claw back and wrestle the narrative away from the resurgent Uzbeks with only minutes to spare. So much at stake, Korea found a way and for now, Captain Son and company steps away from the precipice of failure, rediscovering the margin between collapse and victory so narrow.

Let’s quickly recap:

The XI was noted for GK Cho Hyun-Woo out with a knee injury – Song Bum-Keun having to step in between the sticks for him, Lee Seung-Woo was rotated out for Na Sang-ho. Kim Min-jae back at CB partnering with Hwang Hyun-Soo.

 

An unlikely hero emerged: Hwang Ui-jo, who has been hot and cold this tournament (like much of his career perhaps) showed up today in full force. The Gamba Osaka striker, whose selection by Kim Hak-Bum was roundly criticized pre tournament, netted a vital hat trick, and could well have scored more. The first goal came early:

http://www.kfa.or.kr/_Data/BOARD_NEWS/2018827203521.jpg

Korea would lose Jang Yun-ho to injury (mangled foot after run in with a Uzbek defender), burning a sub early, Lee Jin-Hyun would come in his stead.

After the touchline celebration, as if on cue, the defense seemingly answered the offensive firepower with an equally poor effort:

Hwang Hyun-Soo almost equally culpable in Uzbekistan’s goal, failing to confront Khamdamov, who nutmegged Hwang near the goal line, allowing Marsharipov ample space to shoot.

 

Lee Jin-Hyun, who had a mixed performance, made his biggest contribution of the day by tackling the ball off an Uzbek player, then while on the ground, managed to kick it out it to Hwang In-beom who immediately tees up Hwang Ui-jo making a central run. Hwang rifled a 24 yard shot, into the top left corner and past a sprawling Ergashev for his 2nd goal.

Korea doesn’t let off the pedal:

Before the halftime whistle, Hwang Ui-jo did well to bring down a long ball, the keeper scrambled off his line to deal with the threat. Hwang’s first shot is blocked by the keeper- but now out of position, Hwang has a chance to send the rebound goalward – but his 2nd effort careened off a defender. The chance evaporated.

Korea didn’t make things easier for themselves coming out of halftime with further abysmal defending on display. LB Kim Jin-Ya, who has been solid throughout the tournament, was caught out centrally with Alibaev lurking on the far post, leaving Song Bum-Keun to come off his line to contain his advancing threat. Alibaev had other plans and his shot around Song went in for the equalizer. Before Korea could re-establish their footing, a minute later, Lee Seung-Mo losses the ball in a dangerous fashion, Uzbekistan raced in for the kill, Alibaev’s shot deflecting off a hapless Hwang Hyun-Soo and into the net. 2 goals conceded in 2 minutes.

Lee Seung-Mo was taken off for Lee Seung-Woo. The clock in the 2nd half was ticking and the pressure was mounting for Korea to find a way back in. The former Barca academy product nearly bagged the equalizer with a terrific slice of dribbling and fancy footwork, but his shot went just wide.  With a quarter hour remaining – Korea looked very much in trouble of catastrophe -but suddenly in the 75th minute, a lifeline was extended. Uzbekistan’s LB, under pressure from Son made what he thought was a routine clearance. Instead, he managed to whiff and the ball to which the Tottenham winger did not hesitate to take full advantage. Son raced onto the ball, delivered the ball on a platter to Hwang Ui-jo and this time, he would not be denied. Hat trick for Ui-jo…and absolute utter relief.

Korea just couldn’t manage the game winner in regulation time,  though not for lack of trying. Son tried his patented cut inside and shoot outside the box routine – that missed by inches. Hwang Hee-Chan’s late introduction brought more energy and pace, but a few heavy touches betrayed the Red Bull Salzburg forward.

Both overtime halves were extremely eventful for defining moments in each half. Korea and Uzbekistan came close to moving ahead – Lee Seung-Woo servicing Hwang Hee-Chan looked promising but no cigar. Lee Seung-Woo again created a golden chance with a low cross to Hwang Ui-jo lurking near the far post – Hwang, who during regulation seemed to do no wrong – somehow just missed the ball! Suddenly, a minor incident involving Masharipov shoving Kim Moon-Hwan escalated, as Alibaev violently elbowed a Korean player (also Kim?) resulting in a second yellow card. Uzbekistan’s best offensive threat was sent to the lockers and were down a man.  Halftime in OT and it all came down to the final 15 minutes. No Cho Hyun-Woo meant if it came down to a penalty shootout, Korea would potentially be at a disadvantage with Song having shown his liabilities.

Korea struggled despite being at a man advantage. Perhaps the pressure was getting to them. You can see the anxiety over some of the players.  Fatigue along with frustration added to the pressure cooker.  With the clock winding down to 3 minutes left, Korea managed to find their gear once again and penetrated Uzbekistan’s half with renewed vigor. With his back to goal and under heavy traffic, Hwang Ui-jo received the ball in the box, flipped the ball to himself to turn and receive it. With Uzbek defenders either side of him, he was hauled down. The partisan Korean crowd went ballistic – moments later (which seemed to last an eternity) – the whistle peeped: penalty!

Initially it seemed as if Son was going to take it – and here’s where we can slow down the tape to reveal some interesting anecdotes.  Son and Hwang Ui-jo both refused the kick * (update: didn’t mean to cause a furor with this, to be fair, while initially writing in the recap that both Son and Hwang refused the PK, the truth is we don’t know what conversation exactly took place regarding who was supposed to take the penalty kick. It may have been pre-ordained for all we know). In that pressure cooker of a moment, Hwang Hee-Chan stepped up to take it. Son turned his back and couldn’t watch.

[thanks to BSK poster 10August2012 for screenshot]
Not necessarily known for his penalty kicks, Hwang teed up the ball, paused after the whistle for what seemed like 3 long seconds – just staring down at the ball and the keeper.  He slowly made his approach.

………………

You can see on replays JUST HOW CLOSE IT WAS. Uzbek’s keeper had a hand on it, but the powerful delivery was enough to tip the ball in. It wasn’t over, Uzbekstan tried to answer back, close shave in Korea’s box, but in 3 minutes + of stoppage they managed to keep from further defensive calamity to hold off Uzbekistan. The whistle blew and after 120 long and heart attack inducing minutes, absolute relief.

 

 

 

………………

 

Keys to this (close) victory:

  • Hwang In-Beom. He’s struggled through some of the tournament, but he played the conductor role with aplomb. We can’t forget his assist to Hwang Ui-jo for Korea’s 2nd goal.
  • Obviously Hwang Ui-Jo. He’s been hot and cold in Indonesia, his liabilities are certainly out there (some of his crosses in overtime were cringe worthy), but when he’s on, he is really on. Clinical and deadly, he rewards Kim Hak-Bum for the call up.
  • If Kim Hak-Bum can feel vindicated by the selection of Ui-jo, then Lee Seung-Mo in particular might put a damper on things. He, along with Hwang Hyun-Soo have put in confidence shattering performances throughout the tournament. Kryptonite.
  • Son Hueng-min might not have had his best day – some eye catching (in the wrong way) dribbling miscues  – yet overall was solid in other respects – opened up space throughout the match – and kept Uzbekistan defenders wary. The pressure he brought helped cough up an unforced error on the Uzbek LB and his delivery of 2 crucial assists were vital.
  • Fullbacks generally solid and successful in advancing the ball.  Kim Jin-Ya, as in his other Asian Games performances – has been the stronger element of a generally not-so-solid defense set up. Most of Korea’s forward progress came on the left side, partly in due to Jin-Ya. Kim Moon-Hwan also deserved plaudits.

 

Should Korea get gold medal (gold medal match Sept 1), they will have unlocked the careers of some exceptional young Korean talents AND saved a one Son Heung-Min from having to leave the Premiership and the Champions League.

Next match: Wednesday August 29 / 5am US EST / 6pm Korea Time vs Vietnam.

 

 

Photo: KFA

 

 

 

Vietnam knocked out Syria – also a very close affair – Vietnam also had to go 120 minutes to find a narrow 0-1 victory (Van Toan Nguyen goal in the 108th minute). Both teams will be exhausted – a big task ahead for fitness coaches before Wednesday’s game.

 

Post match: Kim Hak-Bum in tears with the TV interviewer, very emotional after the roller coaster ride of a quarterfinal match with Uzbekistan. Korea with their backs to the wall, comes back to continue their journey in the Asian Games knockout stages.

Extra Time:

 

 

About Roy Ghim 439 Articles
The old Tavern Owner

37 Comments

  1. I blew up your Twitter, but it has to be said again- Son shriveled up like a prune under pressure. His critics are right. In the rare instance where ONE SINGLE player could decide the match, he didn’t have the sack to even watch. Woo comes to play and ball every single match. He would have DEMANDED that penalty if he was the captain. Son should never be a captain again and should defer to Woo from now until he fades into obscurity. He will be a footnote in Korean football. Name ONE KFA player from 2002 – 2006 who would have tucked their tail between their legs in that moment. If I was Poch, why would I think he is a core to a championship team. I used to feel sorry for Son- a golden boy without a golden generation, but now he deserves everything he gets- including military duty. He should buy everyone on this squad a Mercedes if they win gold- IF they win gold. Korea’s national team owes Son absolutely nothing. I’ve been watching Vietnam’s national team lately. I believe every single Viet player would have WANTED to take that kick. Son is about to get schooled from the Vietnamese team that showing heart isn’t just about crying like a schoolgirl after every loss.

    • Keno, you’re a little too harsh on Son. Yes he hasn’t been at his best and it’s disappointing that he didn’t take the penalty, but he has helped the team to some level. Son scored the game winner in the last 3rd group game and provided 2 assists today. To be honest, Son is overrated by the Korean public. He’s a superstar to KNT, but he’s not a star in Europe. I think he’s just a good player who’s a really good role player for Tottenham. Son excels in certain situations and in a certain system where he’s not the star of the team.

      I heard Hong Myung-bo initially refused to participate in the penalty shootout against Spain in 2002. Also, many superstars have cracked under the pressure and refused to watch their team’s penalty including Ronaldo.

      • I’m not an expert on Ronaldo’s career, but from what I remember, he ALWAYS seems to take a penalty kick in high pressure, game-winning situations- many say because he wants the glory, but so be it.

        I can remember once in the 2012 Euro, Portugal lost on penalties and Ronaldo didn’t take a penalty kick. He was criticized HARSHLY for it.

    • Keno– as much as you have a right to your own opinion about Son, it’s comments like yours that make the Tavern a hostile place for people whose voices are on the margins of these conversations– in this case, someone who isn’t a guy.

      It’s clear from your comment that you think he was “soft” for “crying like a schoolgirl”– what a diss to femmes like myself.

      I make this comment assuming that you’re a guy– if your self-image as a guy depends on refusing to embody anything feminine– and seeing that as embarrassing– you need to check yourself.

      • You are correct. Well noted and I’ll do better. Luckily you missed the comment when someone used the term “p*ssy” which I found highly offensive as well. Not to start a finger pointing contest, but the verbal name calling was absent from my admitted “re-trolling”. But yes, I was being juvenile and aggressive. You and any females insight and contribution to this blog is well appreciated equally by me.

  2. That was an intense game. I gotta take my hat off to Uzbekistan. This U23 side is no joke. We had Son, Lee Seungwoo, Hwang Heechan (let’s be honest, some of our senior team’s best players- along with Kim Minjae who is constantly named as our senior team’s best centerback option), and the Uzbek kids took us to extra time, only to be beaten on a PK with a man down.

    WC qualification is gonna be A LOT tougher in the future.

    • Yeah I heard Uzbekistan did very well at the youth levels. They won the most recent u23 asian cup by beating Vietnam. Their players are comfortable on the ball and have decent skills, but they need to work on keeping their composure. Korea really struggled to win the ball and often had to chase them around the field. Uzbekistan has a bright future ahead of them. Don’t forget that future world cups will have 48 teams…smh.

      Does anyone know how good Japan is? I know they brought their u21 team. I haven’t heard much about them.

      • Yeah now that I think of it, with the expansion to 48 teams, maybe qualification won’t be difficult for us after all. Uzbekistan might finally be able to make it haha. Maybe I should say the Asian Cup will be a lot tougher.

        As for Japan, they lost to Vietnam kinda shockingly (I guess?) in the group stage, similar to how we lost to Malaysia, but they’ve looked good other than that. While they are young, they’re a dynamic and organized unit. I was gonna say that having our overage players would give us the edge, but we’ve certainly looked weak and disorganized at times, so not sure how much of an “edge” we have at this point in the competition now that only the best teams remain. If the final is Korea v Japan, it’ll be a good one!

  3. How bad is starting GK Cho Hyun Woo’s knee injury? Will it keep him out of the next match or 2?

    I’d just feel safer if he were able to play; don’t know enough about Song Bum Keun, what I have seen hasn’t been overly reassuring (e.g. I think Cho could’ve saved at least 1 of the Uzbek goals, thru either reaction or better positioning)

    • Had high hopes for Song because of the praise he’s gotten from my Tavern brothers (it’s alright, you guys are right 99% of the time lol). He hasn’t looked good!

    • Not sure why my comment was deleted about Song getting an MRI showing a swollen meniscus, but I’ll post again. Swollen meniscus which means a lot of ice and cortisone shots and then a match time decision. I haven’t found any new updates, but the MRI didn’t show any tears which is a good sign.

        • He had one hell of a match. That one goal from Vietnam was world class. Doubt any keeper in the world could have stopped that. Did see his knee was bandaged up and he had an issue with it at the end of the game. Hopefully that was just more time wasting and not a real issue.

  4. Lol not quite. But definitely going to defend Son when I feel he’s being unfairly criticized, even in one of his admitted off games. Could he have played better and made some better decisions at times? Definitely, but I just saw a guy trying to do too much at times and yet he still showed his class on two great helpers and a near bender. He had an off game, no doubt. But he’s trying to lead this team, a role obviously he doesn’t have in the EPL, nor on any previous KNT I believe. Leadership is giving other members on the team a chance to step up too, which I felt was more likely the reason for deferring those two kicks, rather than him being scared or something. I mean he’s been kicking soccer balls in far more difficult atmospheres playing against grown men. That’s all I wanted to point out. Sorry I got fired up there and had to resort to low blows lol

  5. And I get that everyone wants Son to come out guns a blazing in this tourney and be bending goals left and right. But from what I’m seeing, this Korea U-23 team has the scorers. That’s probably the only position that isn’t lacking. All the other positions are concerning, especially the defense. So imo, Son is expending his energy more in the midfield and in defending because that’s what this team could use the most from him. So fine, yes he hasn’t been exhibiting his scoring class he’s been showing in the EPL, but he’s playing a far different role here. So I think all the criticism that he’s not looking like his EPL for is a bit unfair. He’s doing what he needs to do for this team to win imo

  6. Gentleman, I’d rather not have the task of censoring anyone, kicking anyone out, etc. but let’s just please act civil, drop the middle school stuff. At this point, I don’t care who started what, it’s pointless to name names, if you’re involved then I’m imploring you to keep it classy at the Tavern. We don’t have to all see eye to eye – we all can disagree, but we can do it without animosity, name calling, all that, feel me? Alright – shake hands and let’s get back to important stuff, like rooting for the same goddamn team, drinking and/or getting high if you’re in a state where that’s legal, ‘aight? That and you don’t want to fuck with the Tavern bouncer – he’s a mean mofo and he won’t hesitate to kick yo’ ass from here to Timbuktu. If we’re all good here, then my work here is done. Peace.

    BTW: two sides to everything – none of the players should be immune from constructive criticism. Truth be told, it was not his best game, tho far from his worst. He’s contributing and he plays a different role than his at Spurs. That said, the pressure of these types of situations with military exemption on the line mixed with the hyper Korean nationalism that surrounds these proceedings, all that is getting to him like it got to him in Rio 2016. Does that make him soft? I don’t think so. In those situations, it’s not optimal for him – not that I’m an apologist for Son. We’ve all seen what he can do and offer, so his selection shouldn’t even be an issue. His courage – I don’t really find much fault in that- though yeah, probably looking forward was something he should have done from a tactical point of view. But there’s SO much on his shoulders. There’s plenty of examples in footballing history of the pent up emotions that are right under the surface that bubbles out – and in it’s raw form it expresses itself outward like what we saw during that PK. All I’m saying is That mental game is important to note – and to get the best out of him – Kim Hak-bum and any manager that’s smart who has him in their roster needs to understand what kind of player he is (includes the psychological profile) and what historically is in his locker to get optimal performance.

  7. Agreed on the civility!

    Back to the content at hand- one thing I’ll say about the PK. Hwang Heechan also has military exemption on the line- I get that he’s younger, but it’s not ever gonna be super easy to get the exemption (this time might be the easiest actually). AND he has a career in Europe riding on it. AND he’s been recently getting criticism for his shooting abilities (including by us here at the Tavern). AND he’s not exactly a penalty taker (is he? could be wrong on that one). Can you imagine the backlash/shame he would have gotten if he had missed? But he stepped right up and did it. So I’m not gonna criticize Son but rather applaud Hwang. I mean if Son wasn’t feelin confident, it’s good that he didn’t take it, but come on man!!!!!

  8. I dont get how Son is to be critizised for not having the nerves or emotional stability for shooting the penalty. How does he “deserve military duty” for something that isnt under his control? Why should he shoot if he doesnt feel confident to do it? A Responsible Captain should admit if hes too nervous to kick and let sb more confident shoot, instead of kicking the ball to the moon just because he has to shoot as captain. Ronaldo is a different person with a different psyche than son.

  9. The one thing I’m worried about going into the semifinal is the team’s fatigue with the compressed schedule, especially the fullbacks since there aren’t really many options behind them. Kim Jin Ya played every minute of the tournament until he was subbed off today and looked gassed by the end. It’s a good thing Vietnam was also taken to extra time today, as I read they also looked exhausted by the end of the match.

    One small nitpick, I think it was actually Lee Jin Hyun who started the build up to our second goal with the tackle/pass from the ground. I didn’t think he played the best game today, but that was a critical play!

  10. And for those criticizing Son for not taking that PK is beyond me. Son regularly kicks balls in from outside the box in the EPL, and you think he’s scared to take a PK inside the box in an under-23 tournament against Uzbekistan? Yes he had an off game today, but I have no doubt Son can bury that in his sleep. Instead, Hwang came up to the team leader, and asked for the glory and to take that PK. Son basically stepped aside and put his trust (and essentially his life) in his teammate and gave him the opportunity to deliver, when few would give up that type of opportunity. And Hwang delivered like a boss. That’s what leaders are made of and how you build confidence in your teammates. We are better off as a team the next game(s) because of this and I imagine Hwang will play much better from here on out.

    • People criticizing Son here want him to be a superstar who dominates every game and has nerves of steel in these situations. I’m one of these people, but I also know his limitations. Based on the news reports and the picture above, it appears Son wasn’t in the right mental state to take the penalty. I don’t think him stepping aside was an act of leadership. In that moment, I don’t think Son was thinking “this is a great opportunity for Hwang Hee-chan to improve his confidence. Yay!” lol. It was a big risk allowing a player who appeared to be lacking in confidence to take the penalty. Like what someone said above, Son should have been ready on the line in case of a miss and rebound though. Anyway, it all worked out.

  11. Mistake in the post; it was Lee Jin-Hyeon who tackled and passed the ball to Hwang In-Beom. And i noticed similar mistake in the Kyrgyzstan recap post, you guys said Hwang In-Beom took the corner that lead to Son’s goal, but it was Jang Yun-ho who took the corner.

    I sure you guys are very busy people but it kinda annoys me sorry lol.

    • Thank you for pointing that out – that’s my bad – I had a shaky stream so I knew I had a few of those details incorrect. I’ll fix both of those and I appreciate the fact checking!!

  12. I say this with complete awareness of what I’m wading into here, but honestly calling people “autistic,” “retarded,” or “cock-sucking morons” is extremely offensive and childish. Seriously, if you’re letting an anonymous commenter — even in this passionate, engaged, informed community — rile you up this badly, you have some questions to ask yourself. If other KNT fans speak to one another this way and hold one another in such terrible disregard, I’m not sure this is a community I want to be part of.

    • You are absolutely spot on. I apologize in that I let this trolling war go on for far too long. That’s been remedied now, but I’m encouraging everyone to keep the informed and excellent commentary going (there has been some of that going on and I applaud everyone who has contributed in a constructive and positive manner) and nix the name calling that clogs up what could be a really interesting and informative discussion.

  13. Obviously if you’ve been following this thread – some of the comments have disappeared (to a cyber version of Siberia). As I said before when I issued my first warning – I’d rather not be in the role of censoring comments. Let me clarify a few things – I will not censor topics but I will remove comments (esp after issuing warnings) that are deemed inappropriate, utterly offensive, and divisive to the point of being absolutely damaging to building a good community discussing Korean football.

    Son being accused of lacking courage in overtime in the comment section is going to generate heated debate. That’s fine. I might not agree with that personally, but no player or manager is above constructive criticism. That topic has generated some passionate and interesting perspectives, peppered by some apt anecdotes from football history’s past. Consensus or in other cases, synthesis may develop from proper discussions. New info is shared.

    Speaking of constructive criticism, my own writing is not above criticism. I made some mistakes in my recap report -to which commenters were kind enough to point them out. Now I can correct that. It takes a village/community to build a good collective Tavern.

    However, not pointing anyone out — they are still welcome to participate as long as they abide by the Tavern’s rules —the disagreement had in some cases turned into an absolute trolling fucktastrophe. Name calling and other abusive language then competed for space in between constructive observations/comments from yesterday’s Korea Uzbekistan quarterfinal. The libertarian in me would rather not bother and let it sort itself out. The practical old Tavern owner instead took over and in turn we utilized the metaphorical Tavern bouncer. “He” has no tolerance for trouble. If, for example, there’s a racist running around in the Tavern spouting white supremacist bullshit, best take cover b/c shit is gonna get real.

    Anyway, I’m done here. Let’s all do what we can to be positive forces in this world. I sound religious and I’m not, I just think about the kind of world I want my kids to grow up in. I just hope, despite all the beauty and ugliness in this life, that we can somehow collectively work together to make rational sense, to make order out of chaos. Whether it’s progress in Korean football or finding tangible solution to global warming, I hope we all learn, grow, adapt, and make improvements – to get from point A to point B. Ya’ll feel me? Ok lecture over. Let’s get back to the most important thing: life.

  14. Hopefully someone can see this amidst all of these comments. Does anyone know what time the Korea v Vietnam game is going to be tomorrow in US time? Thanks!

      • Any idea how we can watch it? I’ve tried the links from a prior post here at the Tavern and was unsuccessful. I had to scourge Google to find something for the Uzbekistan game (hard to do so early in the morning) and barely found something- from a reddit post that came up during the game. I got lucky, but would rather have a plan beforehand!
        Any help you guys can provide would be great, thanks!!!

  15. Great game but you can’t compare this to the Germany win in the World Cup as a “defining moment in Korean football history.” It was the World Cup and they were favored to win the whole thing!

  16. Dear Tavern Writers,
    I know you guys have been busy but can you guys write an article and give a good in depth analysis of our new head coach of Korean’s National Team Paula Bento? He seems to have mixed results.

  17. Thank you for your appropriate response Mr Ghim. I did not get involved with that heated debate but I did feel Keno and one of his supporter along with David Lee both had good compelling arguments. Like you I feel Son’s decision to let Hwang take the kick and trust him was not a bad decision, however, him turning away from Hwang’s penalty kick should be criticized, if Hwang missed Song would have been to late to react and bury the rebound and as a Captain he should know better. You covered the mental factor and the things that are at stake for Song and I too understand him I hope he learns from this lesson and better manage his emotion because he can’t afford to be stress to a point it impairs his judgement during a crucial part of the game. He is our best player and he must be at his best in body and mind if he isn’t in his best condition Korea’s future at football can be in big catastrophe. I can’t even fathom what happens if Song is seriously injured or have a mental break down.

  18. Wanted to stay out of the fray of this comment section immediately after the match… Now, after taking a step back (Korea has since also won the semis vs. Vietnam), my only take is that it’s tough to fault Son in this case given the ultimate outcome. Hwang HC buried the pk and Korea won the match vs. Uzbekistan. What more could you have asked for in that situation? That is exactly the outcome that we wanted and that’s exactly what happened. If Hwang missed, then this would’ve been a different argument. We would’ve raised a bunch of questions about Son and his decision to let Hwang take it. But that’s not what happened so let’s just move on. I don’t think we can question Son’s commitment. He definitely has much more at stake than all of us combined. It’s his military service on the line. I’m pretty sure he understands that his playing career is on the line. This is the same person who made immeasurable personal sacrifices by moving to Europe as a teenager to play soccer. He gave it his all at the 2016 Olympics when exemption was on the line, and every other tournament where he’s represented Korea. The one thing we can fault him, though, as has been mentioned before, is that he was in no position to play a possible rebound. Lee SW came streaming into the box just in case Hwang’s shot got blocked or deflected but no Son. That’s a valid criticism.

    Alright, on to the finals!

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