The rising star of South Korean soccer is undoubtedly midfielder Lee Kang-in, 22.
He plays for French top-flight club Paris Saint-Germain and has already established himself as a regular starter for the South Korean national team at a young age. “He’s a player we need in the national team,” says national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann (59).
But Lee won’t be the first player to be named in the starting lineup for China’s gold-medal bid at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. While he is categorized as a key player, the so-called crown prince is goalie Cho Young-wook (24, Gimcheon Commerce).
Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of the Asian Games men’s soccer team (55), has a soft spot for Cho, and it shows in his playing time. He has played 390 minutes in the last six matches with only the final against Japan on July 7. Unlike other strikers, who are often rotated in and out of the starting lineup, he has played full time.
“We don’t have many players who play full-time other than Cho,” Hwang said, adding that the constant rotation of strikers was something he had discussed in advance.
It’s no surprise that Cho is a favorite of his coaches. He has played for the national team at all levels since he was a young boy, and now has 84 caps (37 goals). He has also played in two Under-20 World Cups, something most people only dream of doing once, reaching the final in Poland in 2019.
Some have even joked that he could become the first player to join the Century Club (100 caps) for his age group if he wins a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games and enters next year’s Paris Olympics as a wildcard (players over 23).
For Cho, the gold medal is a priority. He has no time to think about anything but the Asian Games. “I’m only thinking about beating them and winning the gold medal,” he says, “I’m trying to think about how to prepare well and things like that.”
What’s more, Cho is the only player on the team who wears a military uniform. He joined the Korean Armed Forces Athletic Corps last year and is close to being promoted to sergeant, and is looking forward to retiring as a corporal. In the past, enlisted athletes had to honor the remainder of their service after winning an Asian Games gold medal, but now they can leave the military immediately. Hwang In-beom (Zvezda), who joined the Ansan Police Department five years ago, is a prime example.카지노사이트
“Before the Asian Games, I was in frequent contact with my unit, but as the final approached, I lost contact with them,” he joked, adding, “I really want to win the gold medal.”
The big question is who will score in the final. With 25 goals in six games, South Korea has already broken the previous Asian Games record for most goals scored. Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart) is the top scorer with seven goals, while Cho Young-wook is fifth with three. “I should have said five goals,” he said before the tournament, adding, “If we need a goal in the final, I’ll take it. I will do everything I can to help the team win.”