Son among players shortlisted for Korean Olympic squad
Kim Hak-bum, head coach of the Korean Olympic football team, plans to recruit Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and Bordeaux top-scorer Hwang Ui-jo to the national football team to represent Korea at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Olympic rules require participating countries to field a team of players under 24 years old, known as U-23, with three wildcards permitted. Kim is trying to recruit the 28-year-olds Son and Hwang as two of Korea’s wildcards.
Son and Hwang led Team Korea to take gold at the 2018 Asian Games.
The only obstacle to Hwang and Son's inclusion is their league clubs, which could choose not to release them as the Olympic football tournaments will be played just a few weeks before the 2021-22 seasons begin in both England and France.
“The only obstacle is whether the clubs will let them play at the Games,” said Kim at a press conference at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi on Monday.
For the Olympic Games, clubs do not have to release their players, unlike for other FIFA-sanctioned matches.
The group stages at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 21. That means Kim and his team have to be together and training throughout June and early July, just before the start of the new Premier League season in August.
Son is one of the top players for Spurs, having recorded a career-best 17 goals and a record-breaking partnership with Harry Kane, making him a valuable asset to the club.
If Son and Hwang join the team as forwards, Korea may be looking at reproducing its Asiad glory on the big stage.
Other players named to the team included Valencia CF midfielder Lee Kang-in, SC Freiburg striker Jeong Woo-yeong and Portimonense forward Lee Seung-woo.
Kim’s Olympic team will first play Ghana on June 12 and 15. The two matches will be the last opportunity for Kim to see the team play before finalizing the 18 players that will go to the Olympics.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]