Sunday, 26th May 2024

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Sick bulls…let’s get off to a good start and set the tone

Hwang Hee-chan (28-Wolverhampton), a key striker for the Korean national team, has vowed to win the Asian Cup with a clean sweep.

He made the announcement in response to a question about the mood of the squad at a pre-tournament press conference at the Main Media Center (MMC) in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday, the eve of their first group game against Bahrain.

Hwang Hee-chan is still recovering from injury and is not expected to play against Bahrain. “I’m sure everyone is tired after playing for their clubs, but everyone is happy to be selected to play for the national team. Instead of talking about how hard it is, we talk about how to do well, talk about the positives, and try to create synergy,” he said. “We want to win every game, and we want to play well in every game, and I think we’ll get the results we want,” he added.

Despite the confidence, there are injury warnings for the national team as they attempt to win their first Asian Cup in 64 years. Hwang Hee-chan and a few other players were injured. Depending on the severity of the injuries, they could affect not only the group stage, but the tournament as well.

When the team arrived in Doha, Qatar, all 26 players were in good shape, but after the first training session, Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Jae-sung (32-Mainz) and Kim Jin-soo (32-North Korea) were injured. While Lee Jae-sung was fortunate to receive only a minor bruise, Hwang Hee-chan complained of fatigue in his left hip muscle and Kim Jin-soo felt discomfort in his left calf muscle, making his participation in the Bahrain match uncertain.

If the injury lasts long, it could be a big blow for Klinsmann. Hwang Hee-chan, who usually plays on the left wing for the national team, has been in top form in the English Premier League (EPL) this season, scoring his first double-digit goals (10) since his debut.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to fill Hwang’s void. For starters, captain Son Heung-min (32-Tottenham), who is also a playmaker on the left flank for his club, could step in. Lee Kang-in (23-Paris Saint-Germain), the next ace of the national team, is also no stranger to the left flank as he plays there more often than not. Jung Woo-young (25-Stuttgart) and Moon Sun-min (32-North Korea) are also worth considering.

Lee Jae-sung is a versatile player who can play in all two positions. He’s seen his starting spot dwindle in favor of Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Kang-in (23-Paris Saint-Germain), who has been playing well on the right flank lately, but he’s still valuable.

Left fullback Kim Jin-soo has seen his minutes dwindle as Klinsmann favors Lee Ki-jae (33-Suwon), but he’s an essential resource.

Despite the injury bug, the national team has plenty of alternatives. The players are hungry to win and full of confidence. The players have been focused in training today and have completed their final checks. Bahrain, who face Korea at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, have lost two straight A-Match matches. South Korea, on the other hand, is on a six-match winning streak and has an 11-4-1 head-to-head record against Bahrain.


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