Lee Kang-in officially confirmed for Asian Games…”Moving to Hangzhou, China on the 20th → Joining Hwang Sun-hong Ho → Preparing for Thailand in the second round of the group stage”

September 15, 2023 | by

Paris Saint-Germain and the Korea Football Association’s negotiations have ended in a falling out. Lee Kang-in will play in the Asian Games. He will join South Korea against Thailand in their second group game, but with only a day’s notice, he is likely to play in the final against Bahrain.

The Korea Football Association said in a press release on the 15th, “After consultation with Lee Kang-in’s club Paris Saint-Germain, it was finally agreed on the night of the 14th that Lee Kang-in will join the Asian Games team after the club’s home game against Dortmund in the European Champions League on the 19th local time in France. Lee will travel to Hangzhou, China, to join the Asian Games team on Sept. 20,” said a statement from the Korea Football Association.

“The Korea Football Association received an email from Paris Saint-Germain on the 13th to allow Lee to join the Asian Games on the condition of rescheduling the Asian Cup, and consulted with the Paris club until late at night on the 14th, and finally received an official response from the Paris club on the 14th to allow Lee to join the Asian Games team on the 20th without any other preconditions,” the statement continued.

French media outlet L’Equipe said, “Lee Kang-in has been the center of attention in South Korea. But now he will finally play in the Asian Games. He received permission from Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday. He will be traveling to China in the next few hours.”

“The decision was made through talks between the player, his agent and the Paris Saint-Germain club. Lee’s agent said, ‘We are grateful to the club for managing the situation and helping the player. We are all happy with the outcome,’ Lee said.”

European transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano added: “As I understand it, Paris Saint-Germain have given the green light for Lee to be sent to the Asian Games. Paris Saint-Germain are expected to send Lee Kang-in to the 2023 Asian Games.”

Local reports gave conflicting timings, with L’Equipe reporting that Lee would be traveling to Hangzhou, China, in the next few hours to focus on preparations for the Asian Games, while Le Parisien reported that he would be joining the Asian Games team on the 23rd. According to the federation’s announcement, he will join the team on the 20th but will most likely play as a substitute against Thailand on the 21st. It would be unreasonable to expect him to play in the group stage of the Asian Games when he hasn’t even found his feet after arriving in China. As reported by Le Parisien, he is expected to play in the third group game.

Lee came up through the ranks of the Valencia youth team. He excelled at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, where he became the first Asian player to win the Golden Ball in the second top and attacking midfield. He then returned to Valencia to compete for a starting spot, but was benched due to off-field issues and left for Mallorca.

In his first season in Mallorca, he settled in and soared in his second season. Moving from the flanks to the center, he led Mallorca’s attack and became the first South Korean to record double-digit attacking points in the Primera Liga. He was linked with the likes of Atletico Madrid in the winter transfer window, but decided to take up the challenge at Paris Saint-Germain.

On joining Paris Saint-Germain, he said, “This is a team I’ve known since I was a kid. Paris Saint-Germain is one of the best teams in the world. They have the best players in the world. I can’t wait to start my adventure with Paris Saint-Germain. I want to win every game and help them win as many titles as possible.”

“He’s a midfielder who can play right or left winger. He can play a variety of positions. He is comfortable on the ball. He has a great desire to win. I want to contribute to the team and help them win. I am honored to be the first Korean in the history of Paris Saint-Germain. I’m playing for Korea and I’m playing for Paris Saint-Germain. I will always do my best to show my best on the pitch,” he said.

After joining Paris Saint-Germain, Lee Kang-in trained with his teammates in a cheerful atmosphere. Neymar, who was also in the team’s training session, smiled at Lee and had fun with him. The rest of the team, including Mbappe, who was given extra rest after the A match, also joined the team for a full-scale team training.

Neymar played in a preseason friendly against Le Havre (France) at PSG’s Paris campus. He led the team’s attack from the right wing and had a sharp performance, wearing the number 19 shirt. He was joined by Luca Hernandez, Marco Asensio, and Manuel Ugarte.

Paris Saint-Germain continued their attacking work through Lee Kang-In, and his passing was brilliant as he moved between the flanks and the center. He linked up well with the fullbacks on the flanks and exchanged fluid passes. His passing into space and pressing was as good as we saw in Mallorca.

However, he complained of hamstring pain just before halftime. Lee suddenly grabbed his thigh in the 43rd minute. He sprinted forward during a Paris Saint-Germain counterattack, overloaded, and went to the bench in discomfort. French outlet Footmercato also reported, “Lee Kang-in is injured. Paris Saint-Germain freshman Lee Kang-In played very well against Le Havre, but ended up leaving the game early. He suffered a hamstring injury and left the field just before halftime. We need to check his injury status.”

Lee participated in the tour of Japan, but didn’t play with his Paris Saint-Germain teammates. Neither did Neymar, who was with the team at the time. Paris Saint-Germain didn’t have a lot of creative passing options in the second line. It wasn’t until third midfielder Marco Verratti came in that they got some breathing room.

He has been working hard to recover from his injury and be ready for the opener. He wasn’t 100% in preseason due to injury, but he was a lightweight in the opener. In the 12th minute, he stunned the Paris Saint-Germain home fans with a sharp killer pass. He also attempted a daring shot, but was caught by the Lorient defense and failed to register an attacking point.

He started the final game and played 82 minutes on the pitch. He completed 86% of his passes and touched the ball 58 times. European soccer statisticians, including Footmob, gave Lee high marks and named him Man of the Match (MOM). He was the only bright spot in an otherwise stifling Paris Saint-Germain attack.

The Ligue 1 also gave Lee a thumbs up. In choosing him as their Man of the Match, they said, “Lee enjoyed the space that Lionel Messi was playing in brilliantly. The Paris Saint-Germain players would have been happy with his performance. Hamus, along with Asensio and others, played in support of him in attack. He energized the Paris Saint-Germain attack with his wide-ranging influence. He deserves to be praised.”

He also started the second leg. However, it wasn’t a position where he could fully utilize his strengths. He was deployed on the left flank, but in more of a wing-back role. He didn’t get along with Fabian Luis. Enrique opted for a tactical change at the start of the second half, bringing on Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.

In the third leg, the debate over starters and substitutes was compounded by injury. Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed that they will be out of action until at least the A-match period in September. Local media outlet Le Parisien predicted a return by mid-September. Lee is expected to spend around four weeks trying to get back to full fitness.

Later, Paris Saint-Germain announced on their official website last month that “Lee Kang-in has sustained an injury to his left quadriceps. He will continue his treatment until at least the end of the next A-match period.” Lee was not included in the squad for the September A matches in Wales and England as he continues to recover from the injury.

He recently took part in team training in a video released by Paris Saint-Germain. He trapped balls and dribbled as Luis Enrique watched on. With a big smile on his face, he worked with his teammates to prepare for the league schedule. While not as active as he was in his first training session, he did show off some intermittent sprints. Of course, he will be closely monitored to see how he feels in practice and if he has any recurrence of the injury.

After the final match of the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, Hwang Sun-hong was still talking about Lee Kang-in’s coordination. In the final match against Myanmar, South Korea took the lead in the fourth minute with a header from Baek Sang-hoon (FC Seoul). They pushed forward until the end of the second half. Goals were hard to come by until the final minutes of the game. Back-to-back goals by Jeon Byung-kwan (Daejeon Hana Citizens) and Oh Jae-hyuk (Jeonbuk Hyundai) secured the 3-0 victory.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, head coach Hwang Sun-hong said, “The players worked hard to qualify. We played well according to the plan, but we were impatient as we couldn’t score. I feel like the first round is over. We need to focus on the second round of the Asian Games.”

The substitutions paid off. Jeon Byung-gwan and Oh Jae-hyuk, who came on in the second half, scored back-to-back goals. Coach Hwang Sun-hong said, “The opponent was concentrated in the center. We saw that there was no space unless we were dragged out. As our physical strength dropped in the second half, the space opened up, and we took advantage of it.”

While the result was satisfying, the process was perhaps not. They lost their first game against Qatar and barely won 1-0 against Kyrgyzstan, exposing their goal-decision issues. The game against Myanmar was also frustrating until back-to-back goals in the second half. Coach Hwang Sun-hong said, “You can’t win soccer just by attacking. It is difficult to improve our goal decisiveness. I think it was a tournament where we lacked decisiveness. We need to work on that. We have strong opponents in the main round. We need to improve on that and prepare for the tournament.”

The team has qualified for the Asian Cup. The focus is now on the Hangzhou Asian Games. A topic of conversation was the timing of the arrival of Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), a key member of the A team. “I haven’t heard anything,” said Hwang Sun-hong. For now, yes.”

After promising to win the best-of-three series, Hwang hung his head in shame after losing the first game. In the post-match press conference, Hwang said, “I apologize to the home fans. We lacked detail in our offense. Our fullbacks were static, so we changed positions. We played two midfielders for stability, but we made many mistakes in the attacking area.”

A victory in the second game was the icing on the cake. Hwang Seon-hong led his team to a 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan. In the post-match press conference, Hwang said, “We controlled the game, but it was unfortunate that we only scored one goal. The mood was dark after the first game. I think the players overcame it well.”

Before the qualifiers began, Hwang Sun-hong promised to win all three matches. The team lost the first match against Qatar and failed to complete the sweep. They beat Myanmar in the final match to finish the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers with two wins and one loss.

The road to Paris 2024 The U-23 Asian Cup is an Olympic qualifying tournament. The top three teams go straight to the Olympics, with the fourth-place finisher playing a playoff against the fourth-place African qualifier.

A chance to make history. South Korea will attempt to become the first team in the world to qualify for 10 consecutive Olympic Games. In the last edition, they qualified nine times in a row. A world record is on the line.

Head coach Hwang Sun-hong spoke about Lee Kang-in’s status at the Changwon call-up training. When asked about Lee, Hwang said, “When I received the official mail, I heard that he is recovering quickly. I exchanged letters with Paris Saint-Germain and they said they would give me a final answer on the 13th.”

“I’m in personal contact with Lee Kang-in and communicating with him. I understand he’s been training with Ball since this week. We are focusing on the weekend games after the A-match in September. Paris Saint-Germain is thinking of playing one league game and then joining the Asian Games. We want to be there as soon as possible. It’s a problem to be solved,” he explained.

However, there was an anomaly in Paju’s training ahead of their departure for Hangzhou. When asked about Lee Kang-in’s departure, he said, “I’m also a little frustrated. I’ve been communicating with him personally, and he wants to join us as soon as possible, but the timing of his departure from Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t seem to be coordinated. The federation is in close communication with Paris Saint-Germain. We hope that a decision will be made soon so that he can fully commit to the team.”

The timing of the move hasn’t been perfectly negotiated either. “I was hoping to have him at least one or two games before the Asian Games group stage, but it’s not working out. It seems that Paris Saint-Germain is putting forward a lot of conditions. The Asian Cup qualifiers in January next year could be (one of the conditions). I would personally like to see him join us then rather than later.” At the time of the interview in Paju, it was unclear whether the team would make it beyond the group stage to the round of 16.

Head coach Hwang Sun-hong breathed a sigh of relief, but negotiations ended on a positive note and he will join the team before the tournament. Hwang’s Asian Games squad will open their campaign against Kuwait at China’s Jinhua Stadium on Nov. 19. On the 21st, they will play Thailand in the second round. The final group game will be against Bahrain in the Middle East.

A total of 23 teams participated in the Hangzhou Asian Games. Four teams are grouped into five pools, with only Group D containing three teams. The 12 first- and second-place finishers in each group, as well as the top four third-place finishers in each group, will advance through the group stage to the round of 16 tournament for the title.

Defending champion South Korea was among the six teams in Group 1. Hosts China and the top five finishers from the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games were seeded. The draw was made in the order of Group 4, Group 3, Group 2, and Group 1, and Hwang Sun-hong’s men were drawn into Group E, which included Kuwait, Thailand, and Bahrain. Kuwait and Bahrain are obviously not strong teams. However, they are dark horses and are likely to have the sticky nature of Middle Eastern teams. 메이저놀이터

If South Korea, the objective favorite, finishes first in Group E, it will face the second-place finisher from Group D in the round of 16. Group D has Japan, Qatar, and Palestine in the same group. In some cases, there could be a Korea-Japan game as early as the Round of 16. The gold medal match will be played on October 7, the day before the closing ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games.


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