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Asian Cup wrap: Iran cruises, Kyrgyzstan own goal for the ages

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There were no big upsets Monday at the Asian Cup, one day after Jordan stunned reigning champions Australia.

Least shocking was Iran clobbering Yemen. The 5-0 win was started by Mehdi Taremi, who scored twice on the day, with Ashkan Dejagah, Sardar Azmoun, and Saman Ghoddos.

South Korea came the closest to getting surprised, beating the Philippines 1-0 without captain Heung-Min Son of Spurs.

Hwang Ui-jo, 26, was South Korea’s goal scorer in the win.

[ MORE: Wolves-LFC recap | FA Cup draw ]

The other Group C match saw China score an expected win over Kyrgyzstan after taking a stunning 1-0 deficit into halftime.

Former Benfica property Yu Dabao scored the winner, but the Kyrgyzstan own goal was… special.

Heung-min Son ‘feels sorry’ for second Spurs absence

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Heung-Min Son has left Tottenham Hotspur for international duty, and he’s apologizing to Spurs fans and his team.

Son, 26, has been playing very well lately, and is leaving the team later this month to take part in the Asian Cup after leading South Korea to gold at the 2018 Asian Games earlier this year.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 0-2 Man Utd ]

That title means he won’t have to do mandatory military service in his home country. This one’s just about silverware for South Korea’s captain, even if it’s getting in the way of Spurs’ chase for trophies.

“I feel sorry for my team-mates, the fans and the coaching staff. It’s difficult. Sometimes you think it’s a bit sad, but it is also important for my country. I hope I can keep my form for the national team and when I come back here again as well.”

Expect Mauricio Pochettino to deploy Son regularly over Spurs’ next three matches (FA Cup at Tranmere, League Cup semi first leg vs. Chelsea, Premier League v. Manchester United).

Son has 11 goals and 7 assists in all competitions this year and would be on pace for another 20-goal campaign if not for international duty. He has eight goals and five assists in his last nine Premier League games, including markers against Chelsea and Arsenal (Add a ninth goal if you want to include the League Cup quarterfinal against the Gunners).

Ex-Korea international Jang gets life ban for match-fixing

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Ex-South Korea international Jang Hak-yong has received a lifetime ban from the Korea Football Association (KFA) after an attempt to fix a domestic league game.

Jang, a left-back who played five times for South Korea and more than 300 domestic games before he retired in 2017, was arrested in September and sentenced to 10 months in jail. After Jang’s release he will be barred from participating in any soccer-related activities.

The 37-year-old Jang met Lee Han-saem, a player with Asan Mugunghwa in the second division of the K-League, in September. He was found guilty of offering Lee 50 million won ($44,300) to receive a red card within the first 20 minutes of a game against Busan I’Park on Sept.22.

Lee refused, informed the authorities and Jang was subsequently arrested. Lee received a reward of 70 million won ($62,000) from the KFA, which announced the sanction for Jang on Monday.

Korean soccer is still recovering from a damaging match-fixing scandal during the 2011 K-League season that involved more than 50 players or former players.

Other sports have been caught up in corruption. In 2016 police charged 21 people, including two pitchers, involved in South Korea’s professional baseball league.

There have also been issues in the volleyball league with four players banned for life in 2012.

Life ban for South Korea star for deception

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Jang Hyun-soo was banned for life from playing for South Korea by the Korea Football Association on Thursday after being found guilty of exaggerating his community service records.

The 27-year-old Jang has been a regular international since his debut in 2013 – appearing at the 2018 World Cup – but the KFA’s sports fair play committee ruled the defender will not be able to add to his 58 appearances after his deception.

Jang won a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games, earning an exemption from the usual 21-month military service for all able-bodied South Korean males.

But even exempted players must perform basic military training, which can run up to 60 days, and also have to record 544 hours of community service over a period of almost three years.

Jang was found guilty of claiming he performed outdoor community services in December 2017 and submitted photographs to support his assertion. An investigation, however, found there were no activities on the days Jang claimed, due to heavy snow.

Jang, who plays for FC Tokyo in Japan, admitted his deception and was also fined about $26,000.

He said last week: “I am ashamed to have disappointed everyone. I will faithfully perform volunteer work in November.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

No rest for Spurs’ Son after World Cup, Asian Cup

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A grueling summer of soccer for Son Heung-min took in the World Cup in Russia, a preseason tour to the United States, then the Asian Games in Indonesia where he played six games in 18 days in stifling conditions.

[ MORE: Premier League preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool ]

The South Korea superstar returned to Tottenham on Wednesday with a gold medal, an exemption from military service in his home country, and likely some tired legs.

Yet, the hard work doesn’t end there.

Son is faced with the tough task of battling back into the Tottenham team, with fellow winger Lucas Moura having excelled in his teammate’s absence during the last three matches in the English Premier League.

Moura’s three goals — two of which came against Manchester United at Old Trafford — helped him win the Premier League player of the month award for August, and handed Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino something of a dilemma now Son is back.

Does Moura’s form give Pochettino the option of even giving Son a well-earned rest? After all, the winger has barely stopped since linking up with South Korea in late May for warm-up games ahead of the World Cup finals. As if he hadn’t played enough this summer, Son played almost every minute of the national team’s friendly games against Costa Rica and Chile over the past few days.

[ MORE: Key battles for Tottenham vs. Liverpool ]

It seems the 26-year-old Son doesn’t want that, though.

“Fatigue is an excuse,” Son said after the 0-0 draw with Chile on Tuesday.

Tottenham’s hectic upcoming schedule may require Pochettino to throw Son straight into action.

A home game against Liverpool on Saturday starts a run of seven fixtures in 22 days across three competitions for the London club. That includes the start of the Champions League and it’s hardly a slow introduction to the group stage: Spurs play Inter Milan and Barcelona in their first two matches.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

There’s a chance Son will not start against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium – although the absence of Dele Alli because of a hamstring injury does leave an available spot in the forward line – but will return for the trip to Inter three days later.

Moura will not be easy to oust. The Brazilian has more goals than Harry Kane this season, often finding himself further forward than the England striker as he cuts in from the right wing. It seems to be a similar tactic to Liverpool, where right winger Mohamed Salah often plays in advance of central striker Roberto Firmino, who can drop deeper like Kane.

Son is coming off his best season for Tottenham, scoring 18 times in all competitions and proving as adept at filling in as a striker in the absence of Kane as playing in his usual position on the left wing.