Saturday 18 August 2012

Multiple Motivations For South Korea Players To Win

Referee Ravshan Irmatov (red) took charge of the bronze medal match. AP photo.

There was some interesting incentives behind South Korea's 2—0 win over Japan at the Olympic Bronze Medal match on 10 August 2012. Perhaps this may have explained the unexpected result?

Motivation 1: to avoid 21 months of military service!

Motivation 2: to beat historical rivals Japan

Motivation 3: to gain a bronze medal

Granted, Japan also had Motivations 2 (i.e. historical rivals Korea) and 3, although they lacked Motivation 1.

Note: Will the South Korea player who displayed a political message after the win against Japan, and whose bronze medal has been withheld by the IOC, still be exempt from taking up military service?

Related Post  Political, Religious or Personal Statements


South Koreans celebrate military exemption

In overcoming rivals Japan for the bronze, Hong's men are free to skip joining the army for 21 months, enhancing their hopes of pursuing careers overseas
Associated Press
Aug 12, 2012    

South Korea's players won bronze medals, but many admitted they were also celebrating a greater prize: the chance to skip military service.

Medal winners in South Korea are exempted from the 21 months of duty their fellow countrymen must do before they are 29 as their endeavours are seen as benefiting the country.

The 2-0 victory over Japan thus removed a major hurdle faced by many Korean footballers who hope to pursue a career in European leagues.

"I'm very happy to win the bronze medal and everybody here will now get a new chance by being exempted from military service", said striker Park Chu-young, who scored a stunning first goal. "That's what I'm really pleased about because that was our aim at the start of the tournament."

Kim Bok-yung, who has joined English Championship team Cardiff, said being able to skip military service "makes me as happy as winning the bronze medal."

"This is one of the happiest moments of my life," he said. "It is a big problem for Korean players, but now I have avoided it. I will have no problem staying in Europe."

Beating Japan was a motivation in itself for the players. The two countries are Asia's fiercest football rivals and duelling contenders for the title of the region's best team. Japan beat South Korea on the way to victory at last year's Asia Cup.

The bronze was South Korea's first football medal at the Games. Japan have also won a medal - also a bronze - in 1968, the last time an Asian team got an Olympic award.

When the final whistle blew, the players formed a circle in the middle of the pitch; some took their shirts off and traded them for Korean flags from the crowd. Coach Hong Myung-bo said he didn't dare go into the dressing room for 10 minutes after the match, such was the noise the team were making inside.

Japan, who looked tired in their semi-final defeat to Mexico just three days before, started the match brighter in front of 60,000 people at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. South Korea showed signs of frustration, with three players booked in the first 35 minutes before Park's goal in the 38th changed things. The striker, who was a substitute in South Korea's 3-0 semi-final loss to Brazil and was almost not picked for the tournament, picked up a deflected clearance just inside his own half, ran past two retreating defenders and shot low past goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.

Park signed for Arsenal last year, but has not made the first team. British media have reported he will be leaving the north London club before the new season begins this month. Asked about his future, he said "I don't really care about that at the moment. What I really need now is some rest and to enjoy this moment."

South Korea doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half. After striker Yuki Otsu came close for Japan, keeper Jung Sung-ryong quickly kicked a ball upfield into the path of Koo Ja-cheol, who controlled with one touch then scored with his second. Gonda kept his side in the match minutes later, pushing a powerful shot from Kim onto the right post.

Japan made three changes in pursuit of a breakthrough, yet struggled against a well-drilled South Korea defence. Captain Maya Yoshida looked to have scored with a header in the 86th minute, but it was disallowed for a foul by Otsu on the goalkeeper.

Coach Hong, overseeing his last game for the under-23 side, said avoiding military service was a motivating factor, but noted the exemption was not only of individual benefit but "important for the future of the Korean football in general."

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