After two straight group wins to clinch a spot in the Round of 16, Asian Games head coach Hwang Sun-hong was coy on the availability of newcomer Lee Kang-in, saying it was “too early to tell.”
Hwang’s side cruised to a 4-0 victory over Thailand in their second Group E match of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games men’s football competition at the Jinhua Sports Center Stadium in Jinhua, China, on Monday (June 21). Hong Hyun-seok (KAA Hent), Ahn Jae-joon (Bucheon), Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan Hyundai) and Lee Jae-ik (Seoul Eland) scored a goal apiece to extend Korea’s winning streak to two games after a 9-0 victory over Kuwait in the first round. The victory over Thailand secured the team’s spot in the Round of 16 regardless of the final result, as Kuwait and Bahrain ended 1-1 earlier in the day.
The match was significant for several reasons. First, the long-awaited arrival of Lee Kang-in was finally realized. Lee arrived in Hangzhou before the game and traveled straight to Jinhua to join the team. Coach Hwang Sun-hong had a chat with Lee before the game, checking his physical condition and sharing their thoughts.
It was also encouraging to see the team’s consistent performance despite the heavy rotation, which resulted in two consecutive big wins.
With only one day’s rest since the Kuwait game, the team came out with five changes to the starting lineup from the Kuwait game. Hat-trick scorer Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart), multi-goal hero Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon Sangmu), midfielder Jung Ho-yeon (Gwangju), left back Park Kyu-hyun (Dynamo Dresden), and center back Lee Han-beom (Mitwillan) dropped to the bench.
Nonetheless, they dominated Thailand throughout the match, and their game plan paid off, as starters Hong Hyun-seok, Ahn Jae-joon, and Lee Jae-ik found the back of the net.
The early qualification to the round of 16 as the group’s top seed also opened up the possibility of Lee Kang-in playing in the third match, where a win or loss would mean little. However, Hwang Sun-hong did not reveal his future plans at the post-match press conference, saying, “I still need to check his physical condition first.”
“We need to check his physical condition. It’s a bit premature to talk about Lee Kang-in playing here. We will consider many things. For now, yes.”
After the first game, Hwang said, “We should be confident, but we should forget about it.” When asked what he told his players for today’s game, he said, “Advancing to the tournament is something to celebrate, but we can’t be satisfied until we win the gold medal. The next game will be important for us to maintain our form for the tournament,” he said. “The only thing I wasn’t happy with in the second half was that we were a little loose. We need to play the whole 90 minutes with a sense of urgency. I want to emphasize that.”
Hwang became a hot topic after the 9-0 victory over Kuwait because he kept a stoic face in the photo shoot, unlike the players and staff who smiled. His answer after the Thailand game also showed that he still has a long way to go.
When asked what he talked about with Lee Kang-in before the match, he said, “The goal we set is clear. I talked about what we need, but Lee Kang-in also has to give his opinion. It was a time to share those things,” he said.
He continued, 온라인카지노 “I have my own ideas, but he also has his own ideas. It’s important to share the same thoughts. I talked about those things selflessly. I think it was a very touching time,” and concluded the press conference by saying, “I think I need to become stronger through communication with not only Lee Kang-in, but also my teammates and coaching staff.”
Hwang will play the final Group E match against Bahrain at 8:30 p.m. on April 24 at the Jinhwa Sports Center Stadium. With the game being a friendly, a lot of rotation is expected, and we are curious to see how long Lee Kang-in will be on the field to check his physical condition, jet lag, and the grass. They will play the second-placed team in Group F in the round of 16 at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 at the same venue. North Korea, which has already secured two wins, and Indonesia, led by Shin Tae-yong, are the favorites for the quarterfinals.