South Korea suffered a humiliating loss to Malaysia
South Korea suffered a shock defeat in the Asian Games against Malaysia, losing 2-1 in their second group match. Safawi Rasid netted a goal in either half for Malaysia before Hwang Ui-jo pulled a goal back at the death.
Son Heung-min started the game on the bench, but was introduced in the second half and couldn’t find some magic to unlock a steadfast Malaysian side. South Korea is now at risk of crashing out of the competition which would mean players like Son would have to complete their military service, and that would be a disaster for Tottenham
South Korea risk being eliminated from the competition
South Korea now risk being eliminated from the competition if they fail to beat Kyrgyzstan in their final group match on Monday. That would be a disaster for the South Koreans who were expected to navigate what was considered a straightforward group easy enough.
Kyrgyzstan drew 2-2 with Bahrain on the same day South Korea lost to Malaysia. That means if Kyrgyzstan does win, Korea would be relying on being one of the best third-place finishers in the groups to scrape through, which was un-thought of before the competition started.
Military service exemption could equal a case of added pressure
As the South Korean players know that winning this competition would exempt them from military service the added pressure that brings must be immense for a professional athlete.
Knowing that the military service is going to cut into your professional career when you’re at your peak must always be at the back of your mind as a player. The South Korean have that weight hanging around their shoulders, for some, it will be motivation but for others, it will definitely be unwanted added pressure.
World Cup stars included in the squad should pull them through
South Korea have included a host of their World Cup squad in their Asian Games squad. The likes of Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Seung-woo all played in the World Cup. South Korea now need these players to stand up and be counted.
With players of this calibre in South Korea’s squad, they really shouldn’t be losing to Malaysia and they definitely shouldn’t lose or even draw against Kyrgyzstan. If they don’t manage to win it would have to go down as one of the worst performances by such a highly talented squad.
After all over the top panic, South Korea will still get out the group
This will act as a wake-up call to South Korea, they still need to perform, because for countries like Malaysia this competition is a big deal. It’s a big deal because countries like Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan struggle to qualify for other competitions.
Malaysia struggled badly in Asian and World Cup qualifying and don’t look like improving that anytime soon. This young squad could change that, but they’ll still face a massive struggle to qualify for any meaningful competition and the same goes for Kyrgyzstan even though Kyrgyzstan managed to scrape their way into the expanded Asian Cup for the first time in their history, they will still find qualifying for tournaments extremely difficult compared to South Korea.
So even though the only reason the Asian Games is held highly in South Korea is that of the military service exemption without it the Asian Games likely wouldn’t be regarded that highly in the grand scheme of things by South Korean football. However, for smaller Asian nations this is a big deal, and they are determined to do well because they don’t get many other chances to compete in a tournament such as this, South Korea have had their wake-up call but will they listen to it? We will find out on Monday.