Sunday, 26th May 2024

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South Korean soccer’s “next ace” Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) won gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, paving the way for a more stable career in Europe. Hwang Sun-hong’s South Korea U-24 team defeated Japan U-22 2-1 in the men’s football final at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Sunday at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China. Lee Kang-in won the gold medal as part of the Huang Sunhong team. He represented his country at an international level, gave his fans a thrilling victory, and reaped the benefits of military service. Military service could have been a shackle for Lee, who was already pursuing a career in Europe, but at the tender age of 22, he resolved it .Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur), now a South Korean soccer ace, had to wait until he was 26 to receive his military service at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games .After making a name for himself on the world stage by leading South Korea to a runner-up finish at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and winning the Golden Ball for best player, Lee was recognized as one of Europe’s top attacking midfielders in the 2022-2023 season with a stellar performance in Spain’s La Liga, scoring six goals and providing six assists in 36 games .Then, in July, he made a surprise move to join French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).In this situation, he was exempted from military service. If he continues to perform well, he will definitely be able to make a “long run” in Europe. It’s good news for PSG that Lee has cleared his military service .PSG is in transition. They parted ways with Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) at the end of last season, and Neymar (Al-Hilal) left for Saudi Arabia .Kylian Mbappe, who had a falling out with the club at the beginning of the season, is also rumored to be leaving at the end of the season .In this situation, PSG may have been thinking “big picture” when they signed Lee. It’s good to see Lee’s military service resolved. Lee’s quest for gold hasn’t been easy. On August 22, he injured his left quadriceps and there were concerns that he might not be able to compete at all .However, after about a month of rest, he returned to action in the UEFA Champions League (UCL).He then traveled to Hangzhou on the 21st of last month to join Huang Sunhong .In fact, Lee’s performance with the Huangshan Honghao has been underwhelming. After watching the second group game against Thailand (4-0) from the stands, Lee made his first start in the third game against Bahrain (3-0), playing just 36 minutes. In the round of 16 against Kyrgyzstan (5-1 win), he started and played the final 15 minutes, and in the quarterfinals against China (2-0 win), he came off the bench and was substituted midway through the second half. In the semifinals against Uzbekistan (2-1 win), he started and played the final 14 minutes .In the final against South Korea (2-1 win), he played 72 minutes. While Lee showed some flashes of brilliance in his passing and ability to break up play, he generally struggled to integrate into the Hwangsun team throughout the tournament .It’s true that Hwangsun’s offense worked much better with Ko Young-jun (Pohang) on the field than with Lee Kang-in. Lee finished with zero attacking points in a tournament where South Korea exploded for a whopping 27 goals. To be fair, it’s hard to see Lee as 스포츠토토 having much of a stake in the gold medal. The 22-year-old still has a lot of time left to give to Korean soccer.


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