Lee Kang-in’s ‘first 35 minutes’ were filled with expectations and concerns, with class still going on but movement not being as strong
Lee Kang-in (22-Paris Saint-Germain), a late addition to the Hwang Sun-Hong team, made his Asian Games debut. Lee started the Hangzhou Asian Games Group E match against Bahrain on Thursday at the Jinhua Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang, China, and lasted 35 minutes before being substituted, raising both excitement and some concerns.
Lee started as a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of the Asian Games football team, opted for a “center-forward” system. With so many attacking options on the flanks, including Jung Woo-young (24, Stuttgart) and Uhm Won-sang (24, Ulsan), Lee chose the center to maximize his talent and ability. Jeong Woo-young and Ahn Jae-joon (24-Bucheon) took charge of the wings, with Cho Young-wook (24-Gimcheon) up front. Hong Hyun-seok (24-Hent) and Jung Ho-yeon (23-Gwangju) supported Lee in the center of the field.
Lee, who has been dubbed the “fraud character” of the Asian Games for playing in a non-FIFA-sanctioned tournament after playing on a big stage like the European Champions League, drew two fouls with two dribbles in the first three minutes of the game. Bahrain was fooled time and again by Lee’s change of direction, a type and level of play they were not used to seeing. Jung Woo-young had the first chance in the second minute when Lee won a free kick in the danger zone, but his right-footed effort went just wide of the post. In the ninth minute, Lee broke down the right side near the center of the opponent’s box, then suddenly changed direction to the center again, stripping his marker before slotting in a cross to the other side. The crowd roared in unison as they witnessed the classy display of a European big leaguer.
Lee gradually moved to the left side midway through the first half. In the 32nd minute, he didn’t hold on to a pass from Park Kyu-hyun and made a ‘no-look, no-stop’ pass, creating the perfect opportunity for Jung Woo-young, who was running towards the back of the defense from the left side. Jung Woo-young’s cross into the box was headed by Cho Young-wook, but the ‘work’ ended ‘unfinished’ as the goalkeeper blocked it.
There were also concerns. Lee Kang-in wasn’t moving around much, as if he’s still not at full fitness. No sprints, just a lot of walking around. It was a far cry from the ‘lively Lee’ we had seen in the matches against Mallorca, Paris Saint-Germain, and the national team in June. There’s a reason. Lee suffered a thigh injury in late August and missed about a month before making his comeback against Dortmund in the Champions League on October 20. He’s just now getting his match fitness up. That’s why he played only 35 minutes in the first half and was replaced early by Ko Young-joon (Pohang). South Korea will face Kyrgyzstan in the round of 16 on Nov. 27. They don’t have much time to wait for Lee to reach 90 minutes of fitness. In a one-legged tournament, there are many variables.
Without Lee Kang-in, the national team scored three second-half goals to finish the group stage with a perfect record of 16 goals scored and three clean sheets. Lee Han-beom (Mitwillan) broke the deadlock with a header in the 16th minute, while substitute captain Baek Seung-ho (Jeonbuk) rattled the net with a sharp right-footed mid-range strike in the 29th minute. In the 39th minute, Ko Young-jun scored his first Asian Games goal. 먹튀검증토토사이트The victory was a special one for the thousands of Korean fans in attendance. South Korea’s path to a third straight title is light.