The timing of men’s soccer “ace” Lee Kang-in’s (Paris Saint-Germain-PSG) arrival at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games has finally been decided.
“After discussions with PSG, it was finally agreed on Thursday night that Lee Kang-in will join the Asian Games team after the club’s home match against Dortmund (Germany) in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) on Nov. 19,” the Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on Friday.
“Lee will travel to Hangzhou, China, to join the Asian Games team on the 20th local time in France,” the association said.
The federation, PSG and Lee have been in talks over the loan for the Asian Games, which is not a mandatory tournament for clubs to release players.
Lee Kang-in’s participation in the Asian Games was never in doubt as he had already signed a contract with PSG that included an agreement to be sent to the Asian Games, but the question was when he would join the national team.
It had been more than a year since Lee Kang-in had played with the national team at this age group, so Asian Games head coach Hwang Sun-hong wanted him to join the team as early as possible to settle in.
The uncertainty came late last month when Lee was ruled out of two September A matches with a left quadriceps injury and missed his club’s matches as well.
Until the day before, PSG’s lack of clarity on the timing had raised questions, but after consulting with the Football Association, a compromise was reached.
PSG is scheduled to play a French Ligue 1 home match against Nice at 4 a.m. KST on Sept. 16. According to head coach Hwang Sun-hong’s statement to reporters the day before, Lee will not play in the match.
This will be followed by a UCL group stage match against Dortmund at 4 a.m. KST on the 20th, which the Football Association has set as the 19th.
After that game, Lee will begin traveling and is expected to arrive in China on the 21st.
South Korea, which is in Group E of the Asian Games, will play Kuwait on Sept. 19, Thailand on Sept. 21, and Bahrain on Sept. 24 at the Jinhua Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang, China.
Lee Kang-in is expected to be available for the Asian Games as early as the third game of the group stage. Considering the jet lag, it is likely that he will be fully operational by the tournament.
Son Heung-min (Tottenham), who also traveled directly from Europe to the Asian Games five years ago in Jakarta-Palembang, arrived two days before the first group game and started in the second group game.
Meanwhile, according to the Football Association, PSG has demanded a rescheduling of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup early next year as a precondition for sending Lee to the Asian Games.
As the Asian Cup will be held in the middle of the season, PSG may have tried to negotiate to minimize the gap created by sending Lee to both tournaments.
“After receiving PSG’s email with this position on the 13th, we discussed with the club until the night of the 14th, and finally received an official response from the club saying that they would allow Lee to join the Asian Games squad without any preconditions,” the association said. 파워볼게임