The Asian Games team is aiming for a third straight gold medal. The jersey numbers have been released ahead of the tournament.
The Korea Football Association announced the shirt numbers of the men’s national soccer team for the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games through its official channel on Monday. Wildcards Baek Seung-ho, Seol Young-woo, and Park Jin-seop have been assigned shirt numbers 8, 19, and 4, respectively. Germany’s Park Kyu-hyun and Jung Woo-young have been given the numbers 22 and 7, while key player Lee Kang-in will wear the number 18 to start his golden run.
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.
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 contains Japan, Qatar, and Palestine. 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.
Coach Hwang Sun-hong and the federation have been in tug-of-war negotiations over the release of key player Lee Kang-in. As the Asian Games are not on the FIFA calendar, Lee needed permission from his club, Paris Saint-Germain.안전놀이터
The Korea Football Association (KFA) said in a press release on Friday, “As a result of discussions with Lee Kang-in’s club Paris Saint-Germain, it was finally agreed on Thursday night that Lee Kang-in will join the Asian Games team after the club’s home game against Dortmund in the European Champions League on Sept. 19. 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 will send Lee Kang-in to the 2023 Asian Games.”
Local reports gave conflicting timings, with Leciffe saying he would be traveling to Hangzhou, China in the next few hours to focus on preparations for the Asian Games, while Le Parisien said he would be joining the Asian Games squad 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 from 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 reach 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 said.
“I am a midfielder who can play right or left winger. I can play in different 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 training with the team, smiled and enjoyed the experience. 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 was only when Marco Verratti came in as a third midfielder that they got some breathing room.
Since then, he’s been working hard to recover from his injury and be fit for the opener. He hadn’t been 100% in preseason due to injury, but it was a mild tease in the opener. In the 12th minute, he surprised 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, “He 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 suffered 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 some light physicality with intermittent sprints.
Even after the final match of the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, coach Hwang Sun-hong spoke directly about Lee’s coordination. Hwang Sun-hong spoke about Lee Kang-in’s status at a training session in Changwon. When asked about Lee Kang-in, Hwang said, “When I received the official mail, I heard that his recovery is fast. I exchanged letters with Paris Saint-Germain and they said they would give me a final answer on the 13th of this month.”
“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.