Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min was not included in South Korea’s 18-man Olympic football squad named on Wednesday, avoiding a potential club-versus-country dilemma.
Son’s new English Premier League campaign with Tottenham is due to begin on Sunday, August 15 against champions Manchester City, just a week after the Olympic final in Tokyo.
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, the youngest member of the squad at 20, can avoid military service by winning an Olympic medal.
South Korea requires all able-bodied men to serve for 18 months. But Olympic medallists or gold medallists at the Asian Games are awarded exemptions from service.
Spurs striker Son has excused an 18-month stint in the armed forces after winning a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, as was Hwang, who scored 12 goals for Bordeaux last season.
“I did not take into consideration the issue of military service,” said head coach Kim Hak-bum on naming his squad.
“I only focused on finding those who were most competitive,” he told reporters. “We will aim for the best.”
The Taeguk Warriors won bronze in London in 2012, and start their quest for a second Olympic medal against New Zealand on July 22.
Romania and Honduras are also in Group B, with the two top teams from each of the four groups advancing to the quarter-finals.
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).
Source: The Guardian