The Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) men’s soccer team has found the final piece of the puzzle, Lee Kang-in (22, Paris Saint-Germain).
Korea won 3-0 in the third game against Bahrain in Group E of the AG Group Stage held at the Jinhua Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang Province, China on the 24th. The national team, which had previously decided to advance to the round of 16 and take first place in the group in the first and second games, took the first step toward winning three consecutive championships with a clean victory until the last game.
In a situation where winning or losing was not important, what Korea needed to check was the performance of Lee Kang-in, who joined late. He suffered a left quadriceps injury and returned to his team on the 20th (playing 17 minutes) before joining the national team on the 21st. He took a breather without participating in the match against Thailand, which was held that day.
Lee Kang-in’s first appearance in the Bahrain match was not perfect. He failed to score any offensive points and seemed to have some difficulty despite Bahrain’s intensive defense. But he gradually began to warm up and join hands and feet with his teammates. In particular, in the 24th minute of the first half, he quickly made a left-footed non-stop pass, leading the attack to headers by Jung Woo-young and Cho Young-wook, chilling the Bahrain players. Bahrain coach Dario Basic acknowledged after the game, “There were so many impressive Korean players, but number 18 (Lee Kang-in) was especially so. He made the difference.”
What attracted as much attention as his performance was his playing time. The national team used him for only 35 minutes after returning from injury and then replaced him. It wasn’t a health issue. After being replaced, Lee Kang-in responded by raising his hand and smiling at the Korean fans who were cheering him on.
Lee Kang-in, who appeared in the mixed zone after the game, reflected, “It was a fun game. It was my first time working with the Asian Games national team. I think there are a lot of areas where I need to improve in the future.” When asked about the playing time, he pledged, “I already knew (about the playing time limit) before the game. I’m not that disappointed. The next game (round of 16) is the most important. I will prepare well and make sure to win.”
The expression ‘complete’ is not used because Lee Kang-in was added. The national team re-proved its performance by scoring 13 points in the previous two games even without Lee Kang-in. Korea led the team to victory in the second half with center back Lee Han-beom, captain Baek Seung-ho, and Ko Young-jun, who replaced Lee Kang-in, scoring one point each. Key players were excluded from the starting lineup and given rest, but physical strength management actually led to better performances in the second half. Lee Kang-in said, “The other national team players also have great abilities. They know soccer well, so I have high expectations for the future.”레모나토토
As the number of cards increases, there is interest in how coach Hwang Seon-hong will utilize ace Lee Kang-in. Lee Kang-in’s role in the Bahrain game was second-line freeroll. Coach Hwang explained after the game, “I think it would be better to use (Lee Kang-in) a little more freely. I am also considering a position in which he can play a lot depending on the situation.” Lee Kang-in said, “I don’t think it’s important right now how (the coach wants me to) play. I have to fit in with the team as much as possible and do my best to be helpful.”
Lee Kang-in said, “The most important thing now is for everyone to become one team, focus on one goal, and move together. I want to help the team as much as possible in reaching that goal.” He said emphatically, “Even if I don’t show a good performance (in terms of individual performance), the important thing in this competition is the team performance. I will do my best to win.”