With his sights set on next year’s Paris Olympics, Hwang Sun-hong shared his heartfelt feelings for Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) just before the Asian Games squad was disbanded.
Hwang Sun-hong, who captained the men’s soccer team to victory at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, arrived at Incheon International Airport on Monday afternoon. Fans cheered and applauded enthusiastically for the team, which made history by winning three consecutive men’s soccer titles at the first ever Asian Games.
The pressure was off. With Lee Kang-in and Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart), wildcard Baek Seung-ho, Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk Hyundai), and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan Hyundai) facing military service, the tournament was highly anticipated by soccer fans. While South Korea was the heavy favorite to win the tournament, there were many variables, including the lack of video assistant referees (VAR). Against hosts China, age-group powerhouse Uzbekistan, and arch-rivals Japan, the outcome was far from certain.
The team responded well. Hwang Sun-hong started off the tournament on a winning note. They swept Kuwait (9-0) and Thailand (4-0) to clinch first place in the group early on, and won their third game against Bahrain (3-0) by a wide margin. They also breezed past Kyrgyzstan in the round of 16 and China in the quarterfinals.
The quarterfinals were a war. Uzbekistan came out especially rough against South Korea. They didn’t shy away from risky tackles and fights. Park Kyu-hyun (Dynamo Dresden) and Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan Hyundai) went down with injuries during the match as the opposition continued to push forward. This is why coach Hwang Sun-hong said in an interview after returning home that Uzbekistan was the toughest opponent.
Hwang emphasized the goal until the final. After each victory, he emphasized the team’s focus, saying, “There is no defense.” It was a no-holds-barred attitude.
The team’s mental toughness shone through in crunch time. Korea conceded a goal in the first two minutes of the final against Japan. After conceding the first goal of the tournament, they were shaken, but Jung Woo-young equalized in the 26th minute and Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon Commerce) scored the winner in the second half for a 2-1 victory. “The situation was dizzying right after we conceded,” said coach Hwang Sun-hong, “but I knew we would get a chance if we didn’t get shaken up mentally. Fortunately, Baek Seung-ho and Park Jin-seop held the center well. The other players did their best to win,” he smiled.
The initial goal was achieved. Now, the team has its sights set on facing the world’s best. First up is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup with Olympic qualification on the line. It will be held in Qatar from April to May next year. South Korea is the favorite to qualify, 스포츠토토 as they are looking to become the first country in the world to qualify for 10 consecutive Olympics.
Coach Hwang Sun-hong is hoping to make a splash in Paris. He also expressed his desire to bring Lee Kang-in, who plays a key role in the A team. He has already spoken to Lee Kang-in.
“I didn’t get a stamp from (Lee), but I told him that he should join us. It’s better to have the best team,” he smiled. “He said that Lee Kang-in is a question mark. He didn’t give me a definite answer. I think it’s a secret,” she laughs. His affection for Lee Kang-in was evident.
Speaking out to promote the Paris Olympics