There’s a golden glimmer of hope for Korean soccer as it prepares for the Hangzhou Asian Games. The timing of key player Lee Kang-in (22-Paris Saint-Germain, pictured) joining the Asian Games soccer team has been confirmed.
“After discussions with PSG, it has been finalized that Lee Kang-in will join the Asian Games team after the first leg of the European Champions League group stage against Dortmund on Nov. 19,” the Korea Football Association said on Friday.
Hwang Sun-hong, 55, the head coach of the Asian Games team, was also relieved. He met with reporters at the Paju Training Center a day earlier on Thursday and said, “I’m also a little frustrated (about Lee’s timing). I’m communicating with the player personally, but the timing of his joining PSG doesn’t seem to be coordinated. I’m worried about the timing, because we can’t make a plan.”
Lee Kang-in was the ace of the Asian Games squad, which was age-restricted to players under the age of 24. However, he last played with the team at the U23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan last June. Hwang has been pushing for Lee’s inclusion in the squad since the September A match, but has been hampered by Lee’s sudden left thigh injury and recovery, as well as PSG’s non-cooperation.
When Lee joined PSG from Real Mallorca last summer, he included the Asian Games in his contract, but the club wanted to delay his release as long as possible.
In a letter sent to the federation on January 13, PSG demanded that the Asian Games be rescheduled for the Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2024. The tug-of-war between the federation and PSG continued until the night of the 14th. “In the end, Lee Kang-in will join the national team on the 21st without any preconditions,” the federation said.
Lee will arrive in Hangzhou, China, on July 21 to begin training with the Asian Games squad. Given the long distance traveled and the local time difference, he is expected to take the field in the final group game against Bahrain on the 24th. 온라인바카라
At the Jakarta-Palembang Games five years ago, Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham) joined the squad two days before the first group game and played in the second group game. South Korea will compete in Group E alongside Kuwait (Nov. 19), Thailand (Nov. 21) and Bahrain for a spot in the round of 16.
Lee Kang-in’s arrival has also given Hwang’s tactical plans a boost. With a squad that is heavily weighted toward the back two, Lee could be deployed as an attacking midfielder rather than a flanker. Hwang said, “I have talked to the player to some extent. We will make a final decision after checking his physical condition,” Hwang said.