‘Ace’ Lee Kang-in No. 18 – ‘Captain’ Baek Seung-ho No. 8…Hwang Sun-hong-ho announces his number → Challenges for ‘AG’s third straight defeat’

The Korean Asian Games squad for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games has been unveiled.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) unveiled the jersey numbers of the squad for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on its official social media accounts on Monday.

The team, led by Hwang, departed for Hangzhou via Incheon International Airport on Nov. 16 and is currently training locally to prepare for their first match against Kuwait on Nov. 19. After sweating it out in Changwon, Gyeongnam, earlier this month, Hwang traveled to the National Football Training Center (NFC) in Paju, Gyeonggi-do, on the 13th for final training before arriving in Hangzhou.

On the 19th, the team will play their first group game against the Middle East’s Kuwait at 8:30pm at China Jinhua Stadium, followed by their second group game against Southeast Asia’s Thailand at the same time on the 21st. The final game will be played on the 24th at the same time against Bahrain in the Middle East.

Ahead of the first match, the squad was unveiled. Lee Kang-in, who has yet to join the team from Paris Saint-Germain, has been assigned the number 18, which he wears with the senior national team, while captain Baek Seung-ho wears the number 8, which he wears with his club, Jeonbuk Hyundai.

Jo Young-wook and Jung Woo-young will wear the numbers 10 and 7, respectively, symbolizing the team’s core players. Cho Young-wook has 78 caps for his country’s senior national team and has been a standout for Gimcheon Sangmu this season with 13 goals and five assists. Jung Woo-young joined Stuttgart from Freiburg ahead of the season and has started all three of his matches for the club, recording one assist.

Hong Hyun-seok (Gent), who has been on fire in Belgium, has been assigned the No. 6 shirt, while wildcards Park Jin-seob (Jeonbuk Hyundai) and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan Hyundai) have been given the No. 4 and No. 19 shirts, respectively.

South Korea will be attempting to win an unprecedented third consecutive men’s soccer title at the Asian Games. The team previously won back-to-back gold medals in Incheon in 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang in 2018. In Incheon, despite the absence of star striker Son Heung-min due to opposition from his former club Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, Kim Shin-wook, Son Jun-ho and Lim Chang-woo rallied to defeat Japan in the quarterfinals and Thailand in the semifinals, before beating South Korea 1-0 in the final, thanks to Lim Chang-woo’s game-winning goal just before the end of extra time, to win their first gold medal since 1986.

Then, in Jakarta-Palembang, Son Heung-min arrived as a wild card on the day of the first match of the tournament, and the team won the gold medal with an all-star lineup that included Lee Seung-woo, Hwang Hee-chan, and Cho Hyun-woo, all of whom had competed at the World Cup in Russia the same year. After nearly losing to Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals, South Korea went on to beat Vietnam in the quarterfinals and Japan 2-1 in the final to win the title in dramatic fashion. In particular, Son Heung-min was granted a special exemption from military service, which paved the way for his long run at Tottenham.

However, Lee won’t be with the national team from the start of the tournament. Lee will arrive in China on Oct. 20 after his club, French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), hosts Borussia Dortmund (Germany) in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League.

“I was informed that he will join us after the Champions League on the 20th. When I arrive in China, it will be in the evening of the 21st, but I will carefully examine his physical condition and other things to decide when to put him in.” Hwang said, “His injury is said to have recovered, but he hasn’t played yet. I think we should watch the Champions League match (against Dortmund) on the 20th to judge his physical condition,” Hwang said, revealing his concerns about Lee’s availability.

South Korea will face Kuwait, Thailand, and Bahrain in the group stage. Kuwait and Bahrain are not the top teams in the Middle East, but they are good, and Thailand is the best team in Southeast Asia, so it can be said that the grouping is not good. Of course, it’s not a bad group, so advancing to the round of 16 shouldn’t be difficult.

The problem comes in the round of 16. If South Korea finishes first in Group E, they will play the second-place team in Group D for a spot in the quarterfinals, which consists of Japan, Palestine, and Qatar. Japan is bringing a large number of university students to the tournament. It is widely believed that this is not the first team of the U-24 national team. However, at the last Jakarta-Palembang tournament, they finished as runners-up to South Korea with a squad full of top-notch players from the university level, including Hayase Ueda, who now plays for Feyenoord in the Netherlands.

Qatar is also a force to be reckoned with. They shocked Korea with a 2-0 victory in their U-23 Asian Cup 2024 qualifier in Changwon on June 6, and are expected to bring that same team to the Asian Games 스포츠토토.

Of course, South Korea will be fielding a U-24 squad that includes wildcards Baek Seung-ho, Seol Young-woo, and Park Jin-seop, rather than the U-22 squad that lost to Qatar, but with Qatar confident of a comeback, Hwang will have to plan for a round of 16 matchup with either Japan or Qatar in mind.

With a number of variables, including Lee Kang-in’s inclusion, resolved, and numbers revealed, there will continue to be plenty of interest in whether Hwang can lead South Korea to a third straight Asian Games gold medal, starting with the first match against Kuwait on Nov. 19.

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