‘Shot-stone’ Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) delighted South Korean football fans with his first taste of goal in an A-match (international match between national teams), followed by a multi-goal outburst.
Lee scored his first A-match goal in the 10th minute of the friendly against Tunisia at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Wednesday afternoon with a picturesque free-kick that broke the deadlock at 0-0.
After being fouled near the right corner of the penalty box while dribbling off a pass from Hong Hyun-seok (Hent), Lee stepped up to take the spot kick.
The ball left Lee’s left foot and took a sharp trajectory towards the top corner of the goal, where Tunisian goalkeeper Mu’itz Hassan was unable to get a hand to it.
A buoyant Lee scored his second goal of the match two minutes later to make it 1-0. After battling with defender Yasin Marja in the penalty area, Lee fired another left-footed shot into the corner of the net.
Born in 2001, Lee appeared on the KBS entertainment programme “Fly and Shoot” in 2007, where he was coached by the late coach Yoo Sang-cheol and was dubbed a “prodigy” for his outstanding skills.
Lee has been in the public eye since childhood for his footballing prowess, but prior to this match, he had not scored in 14 A matches.
At the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland, he accumulated six attacking points (two goals and four assists) and was awarded the Golden Ball, the most valuable player of the tournament, but his goalscoring form has been quiet for the senior national team.
Lee made his debut for the A team in a friendly against Georgia on 5 September 2019, and was promoted to the senior squad under former coach Paulo Bento for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
After spending the 2022-2023 season with Mallorca (Spain), where he improved his physicality and defence, Lee made his debut in the second group stage match against Ghana (2-3), where he delivered a ‘courier cross’ that led to a header from Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan).
Lee, who has played as a regular flanker since Jürgen Klinsmann’s arrival in February, repaid the faith with a two-goal blast against Tunisia.
His performance was all the more significant as he filled the void left by the absence of South Korea’s leading striker Son Heung-min (Tottenham) due to illness.
Lee Kang-in has also had a recent upturn.
He won gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games as part of Hwang Sun-hong’s team.
The gold medal was the ultimate reward for Lee, who has had to deal with a ‘military issue’ in order to continue living in Europe.
If he wins a gold medal at the Games, he will serve as an arts and physical education officer. He will have to undergo basic military training and complete 544 hours of community service while competing in the sport for 34 months.
The popularity of Lee Kang-in, whose stock price is on the rise, was evident on the field.
Every time Lee touched the ball after his multi-goal performance, more than 59,000 fans chanted his name in unison, drowning out other noises in the stadium. 스포츠토토