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Lee Kang-in ‘gold medal’ project can only happen if PSG ‘say yes’… Will military benefits ‘big picture’ come together?

‘Golden Boy’ Lee Kang-in, 22, has been named in the final roster for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. The Golden Boy’s participation in the Asian Games now depends on Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) giving him the green light.

Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the Asian Games football team, announced the final 22-man roster for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Jongno-gu Football Hall in Seoul on Thursday at 2pm. Originally scheduled to take place last year, the tournament was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the age limit was expanded to 24 and under (born in 1999) from 23 and under. A total of 22 players have been selected, including 19 players aged 24 and under and three wildcards.

Lee Kang-in. /Photo=News

Hwang Sun-hong (left) gives instructions during training. /Photo=Korea Football Association

Lee Kang-in. /Photo=PSG official website
Lee Kang-in, one of the most sought-after players, has also been named. However, he is not yet a ‘confirmed’ participant. As the Asian Games and Olympics are not organised by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), teams are not obliged to send their players, so they need the permission of their club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Hwang Sun-hong said, “Lee Kang-in’s participation is not yet ‘confirmed’. We are still coordinating with PSG. It hasn’t been long since he joined the club, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

He also said, “I have been communicating with Lee Kang-in (about his participation in the Asian Games). “At my former club Mallorca, the talks (about playing in the Asian Games) were over, but the move to PSG happened quickly. I’m still coordinating with PSG. We are looking at it positively.”먹튀검증

When asked how he plans to use Lee, he said, “We have a plan A-B, but we need to communicate with the player and coordinate.” “I respect his individual ability, but football is a team sport. He’s a smart player and I’m sure he’s fully aware of that. I believe he will do a good job as a teammate in addition to his individual capabilities.” Hwang is likely to use Lee Kang-in, who is versatile enough to play in all areas of the pitch, in either the attacking midfield or on the flanks. The roster has plenty of second-choice strikers in Uhm Won-sang, Chung Woo-young, and Cho Young-wook, so he should have good synergy with them.

A disappointed Lee Kang-in. /Photo=Newsis

Lee Kang-in (centre)/Photo=News

Lee Kang-in (left) and Neymar. /Photo: PSG official website video compilation
If the Korean team wins a gold medal at the Asian Games, they will be exempted from military service under the Military Service Act, with only basic military training required. In the case of Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Kim Min-jae (Napoli), they were exempted from military service after winning the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games. Kim arrived in South Korea at the end of last season and joined the army’s Nonsan Training Centre, where he completed three weeks of basic military training before being discharged on 6 June.

He now needs PSG’s final approval to play in the Asian Games. PSG officially announced the signing of Lee on 9 September. The contract is for five years until 2028. Recently, Lee took part in PSG’s first pre-season training session and met his teammates for the first time. He chatted cordially with Valencia’s Juan Bernat and new signing Luca Hernandez, and was spotted sharing a massage bed with star striker Neymar.

The Ligue 1 kicks off on 13 August, with the Asian Games starting around a month later on 19 September. Coach Hwang Sun-hong said the full squad will be called up on 4 September. If Lee is selected for the Asian Games, he will join the national team after playing three weeks at the start of the season. He will then be away from PSG for about a month. For PSG, the pressure will be on to start the season without him. However, if you look at the ‘big picture’ and see him as the future of the team, you might think differently. Solving the military service issue would not only be good for him, but also for PSG. Especially since the player has shown a strong desire to play, there’s a good chance he’ll agree to it. All eyes will be on PSG’s ‘decision’ to see if Lee can play in Hangzhou in the national team colours.

The final 22-man roster for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. /Photo=Korean Football Association SNS

Lee signs the jersey. /Photo=PSG official website

Lee Kang-in. /Photo=PSG official website
In addition to Lee, the final list also includes Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan), Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon) and Song Min-gyu (Jeonbuk), who have all played for the senior national team. Europeans Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart) and Hong Hyun-seok (Ghent) were also included as expected. The three coveted wildcard spots went to Seol Young-woo (Ulsan), Park Jin-seop and Baek Seung-ho (Jeonbuk).

Head coach Hwang Sun-hong said there were three criteria behind the selection. “Firstly, we looked at positional competitiveness in the club and national teams. The second is multi-position ability. We only have 19 field players for the tournament. The weather in Hangzhou is hot and the schedule is tight, so the ability to play multiple positions is important. The last one is the ability to work together as a team.”

With five Asian Games titles, South Korea holds the record for most wins. Notably, they won back-to-back gold medals from Incheon 2014 to Jakarta-Palembang 2018. Hwang Sun-hong-ho will be looking to become the first man in history to win three consecutive titles.

Lee Kang-in of South Korea dribbles during an exhibition match against Peru at the Asiad Stadium in Busan on 16 June. /Photo.

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