“I’m happy to see Lee grow. I’m sure the fans are too. He is becoming more and more responsible and mature. He’s not only dribbling and passing, which he’s good at, but he’s also committed to defense,” said Jürgen Klinsmann (59, Germany) when asked about Lee Kang-in (22, Paris Saint-Germain) after the South Korean national team’s 5-0 victory over Singapore on Saturday in the first leg of the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 North and Central American World Cup.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the game against Singapore started and ended with Lee Kang-in. After struggling against Singapore’s tight defense until the last minute of the first half, South Korea opened the scoring in the 44th minute with a ‘courier cross’ from Lee Kang-in. Lee cut across the defense from the right side outside the penalty area and delivered the ball precisely in front of Cho Kyu-sung (25-Mitwillan), who dug in from behind the two layers of Singapore’s defense and split the goal with a non-stop left-footed shot.
In the 23rd minute, Seol Young-woo (25-Ulsan) was fouled by Lee Kang-in’s sensational heel pass and Hwang Eui-jo (31-Norwich City) converted the penalty. Lee capped the night with a precise left-footed mid-range shot in the 40th minute. It was Lee’s third consecutive A-Match goal, after scoring against Tunisia (two) and Vietnam (one goal, one assist) last month.
When Lee Jae-Sung (31-Mainz) found the back of the net in the 23rd minute, it was his left-footed cross that started the scoring, as did Lee’s stunning header in the 29th minute, which was saved by the goalkeeper, as a result of an unexpected right-footed cross that broke through the defense. The Seoul World Cup stadium erupted in cheers reminiscent of an idol concert whenever Lee appeared on the scoreboard, and he has been attracting female fans lately.
A year ago, Lee was a substitute for Bento. The 54-year-old was not a regular in the squad led by Paulo Bento (Portugal) before the World Cup in Qatar, but he made his presence felt in the knockout stages. He came on as a second-half substitute in the second group game against Ghana, assisting on a Cho Kyu-sung header to help South Korea reach the round of 16.
Lee broke into the national team’s starting lineup under Klinsmann in March and moved to French giants Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) last summer, where he played alongside world-class striker Kylian Mbappe (25, France). Since scoring his debut goal for PSG against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League group stage last month, he has one goal and one assist in the French Ligue 1 (regular season). 아톰카지노 주소
Lee’s ability to change the course of a game with a single, decisive pass will be invaluable to Klinsmann’s team as they continue to face Asian opponents. Opponents in the Asian qualifiers for the North American World Cup and the Asian Cup in Qatar next January are likely to come out of the woodwork against South Korea. That’s why it’s so significant that Lee Kang-in has been able to provide an answer to the dense defense with his ruler-like crosses and bold one-on-one breakthroughs that have created several crucial chances, like the one against Singapore. “When you play a team that comes out defensively, you need to be creative,” Klinsmann said, “and that’s what Lee does.”
South Korea (1W, +5 Goal Differential), who have cruised through the second round of the North American World Cup Asia qualifiers, will face China (1W, +5 Goal Differential) in their second away Group C match at 9 p.m. on Sept. 21 in Shenzhen, China. China (1W-+1) is in second place in the group behind Korea after defeating Thailand 2-1 on Sept. 16. Lee Kang-in, who helped China to a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Thailand in Hangzhou at the Asian Games last year with a relaxed performance, will lead the attack this time around amid concerns about the home crowd’s one-sided support and China’s trademark rough play. “I try to be a better player every time I train and play,” Lee said, “and I will prepare well to get a good result against China.”