In a major development, star Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min was not included in South Korea’s 18-man Olympic football squad on Wednesday. Consequently, there will not be a club versus country dilemma for Son. Notably, the 28-year-old’s new Premier League campaign with Tottenham is due to begin on August 15 against champions Manchester City, a week after the scheduled Olympic final in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Hwang Ui-jo of FC Girondins de Bordeaux was named in the under-24 squad as an over-age player, while Valencia midfielder Lee Kang-in, who is the youngest member at 20, will stand a chance to avoid compulsory military service in his country by winning an Olympic medal.
It should be noted that South Korea required all able-bodied men to serve in the military for at least 18 months. However, Olympic medalists or gold medals at the Asian Games can secure an exemption from this service.
Earlier, Son had received an exemption from this 18-month stint courtesy of his gold-winning effort with the team at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Even Hwang, who scored 12 goals for Bordeaux last season was excused for the service.
"I did not take into consideration the issue of military service," said head coach Kim Hak-bum as quoted in an AFP report. "I only focused on finding those who were most competitive. We will aim for the best," he added.
South Korea squad:
Goalkeepers: Song Bum-keun (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Ahn Joon-soo (Busan IPark)
Defenders: Lee You-hyeon (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Jeong Tae-wook (Daegu FC), Kim Jae-woo (Daegu FC), Kim Jin-ya (FC Seoul), Seol Young-woo (Ulsan FC), Kim Min-jae (Beijing Guoan)
Midfielders: Lee Kang-in (Valencia CF), Kim Dong-hyun (Gangwon FC), Won Du-jae (Ulsan FC), Lee Dong-gyeong (Ulsan FC), Jeong Seung-won (Daegu FC),
Forwards: Hwang Ui-jo (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Kwon Chang-hoon (Suwon Bluewings), Song Min-kyu (Pohang Steelers), Lee Dong-jun (Ulsan FC), Um Won-sang (Gwangju FC).