Military exemption for Korean bronze
South Korea's footballers have been given an added incentive to beat arch-rivals Japan for men's Olympic bronze – they'll be exempted from military service, their coach said on Thursday.
The move is ironic since South Korea's Arsenal forward Park Chu-Young was dropped for World Cup qualifiers and forced to apologise for delaying his military service by taking Monaco citizenship.
"Yes, it is true that if we get the bronze medal then the players will be getting exemption from military service, which is compulsory for Koreans," said coach Hong Myung-Bo.
"But we should not pay too much attention to this. This should not be the primary target for the game against Japan because it is much more important to play for our country and the football fans watching the match."
Japan won the bronze medal at Mexico City in 1968, and they're relishing the chance to put one over on their arch-rivals on Friday. Their senior sides met in the Asian Cup semifinals last year, with Japan winning on penalties.
"We have one more opportunity. This is our last match in the Olympics and we want to close it well," said Japan's coach Takashi Sekizuka.
"We have had rivalry with Korea for a long time. It is the first time in 44 years that Japan have been in the last four and it is very interesting that two Asian countries are fighting over a bronze medal."
Japan's women are playing the United States for the women's gold medal on Thursday.