Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), the “future of Korean soccer” that coach Hwang Sun-hong has been waiting for up to his neck, finally took the field with his teammates.
The atmosphere at the Jinhua Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang, China, on the afternoon of the 21st was very different from the one two days earlier when South Korea thrashed Kuwait 9-0.
The faces of Hwang Sun-hong-ho’s players were stoic. They were determined to start the tournament in the best way they know how.
There were smiles on their faces, whether it was because of the record-breaking victory in the first game or the fact that Kuwait and Bahrain had tied earlier in the day, increasing their chances of topping the group.
There was no muggy air filling the empty stadium, making breathing difficult. The temperature, which had been hovering around 30 degrees Celsius after 8 p.m., had dropped to 24 degrees Celsius in two days, and I could finally feel the cool breeze on my skin.
Korean fans, who were rarely seen before the Kuwait game, also gathered in large numbers to cheer with Thai fans. Some fans wearing red devil headbands and flag stickers on their cheeks were waiting for someone.
More than all of this combined, the most welcome change for Hwang Sunghong was the arrival of Lee Kang-in.
Hwang and the players have been waiting for Lee to play the role of the team’s ace.
The last time Lee Kang-in played as part of the Hwangs was on June 12 last year in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup against Japan.
After the 0-3 defeat, Hwang and Lee packed up their bags with a lot of disappointment, and they haven’t seen each other since.
That’s because Lee Kang-in’s game had improved so much that he was categorized as an A team resource rather than an age group player.
Since the World Cup in Qatar last winter with former A team coach Paulo Bento, Lee has developed into a two-headed monster in the attack alongside Son Heung-min (Tottenham), making it harder for Hwang to keep him on the bench.
Lee, who joined Hwang’s squad with permission from his former club Paris Saint-Germain (France), showed up to the game and chatted with Hwang from the bench the entire time.
Lee wore white sneakers, not soccer shoes.
After about 20 minutes of intense conversation, Lee stood up to greet his teammates as they returned to the locker room after warming up.
Song Min-kyu (Jeonbuk) hugged the bouncing Lee in front of his long-lost teammates and expressed his excitement.
Due to the tight schedule of the match, which will be played immediately after Lee’s arrival in Hangzhou, Hwang had left Lee off the roster altogether. 파워볼