South Korea’s Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) proved his golden left foot at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, leading his team to victory. At the same time, he has been a key player since joining the Klinsmanns, scoring 14 of the team’s 22 goals.
South Korea defeated Bahrain 3-1 on Friday (June 15) at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, in their first Group E match of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
South Korea faced a tough test against Bahrain on Sunday. Playing in the sweltering heat, the tempo of the game was slow from the start, and there were repeated instances of broken passes.
In addition, Chinese referee Ma Ning frequently interrupted the tempo of the game with soft calls. Unable to find the tempo, South Korea had to rely on Bahrain’s sharp counterattacks despite maintaining high possession.
There were some close calls, most notably a one-on-one chance for Ali Madan. Fortunately, Madan’s shot was deflected over the bar.
After surviving the crisis, South Korea took the lead in the 38th minute when Lee Jae-sung crossed into the center of the box after a long pass from Kim Min-jae, and Hwang In-beom slotted it home with his left foot.
The first half ended 1-0, but the problem was the yellow cards the defense picked up in the first half. Starting with Park Yong-woo, the third midfielder, Kim Min-jae and Lee Ki-jae received yellow cards one after the other. Since it was so early in the game, the defense was forced to play passively.
This led to a goal six minutes into the second half. Madan and Kamil Al Aswad exchanged 2-on-1 passes before shooting, and Abdullah Al Hashashi pushed the ball past the defense to equalize. It was a bit of bad luck that the second ball didn’t bounce the way it should have, but it made for a tough defensive situation.
The picture looked bleak from the outset, but it was Lee Kang-in who stepped up to the plate and opened the scoring for Bahrain in the 11th minute with a powerful left-footed shot from the front of the arc after receiving a pass from Kim Min-jae.
Lee Kang-in’s show continued. Just 13 minutes later, after receiving the ball on a counterattack by Son Heung-min and Hwang In-beom, he beat the opposing defense to score again.
With the lead in hand, South Korea relaxed into their rotation and recorded their first win of the group stage.
Lee Kang-in’s presence on the field was even more pronounced due to his recent form for the national team. According to post-match data from Coupang Play, Lee has been involved in a whopping 14 of the team’s last 22 goals. He reportedly has six goals and three assists to his name, and that’s when you add in the set-up passes that led to the goals. This is where Lee’s influence can be seen.
After leading his team to a multi-goal victory in his Asian Cup debut, all eyes will be on Lee to lead South Korea to the title.