‘Wah Lee Kang-in’ named to Korea’s only best 11 for Game 3

‘Golden talent’ Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) was the only Korean player to be named in the Best 11.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced its Best 11 from the third group stage of the Qatar 2023 Asian Cup on social media on Monday (June 26). The 11 most outstanding players from the third round were selected by position. South Korea midfielder Lee Kang-in was named to the list. He was deployed as a right midfielder in the 3-4-3 formation.

Lee had a one-goal, one-assist performance against Malaysia in the tournament’s third group stage match on Sept. 25 at Al-Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar. South Korea, ranked 23rd in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), fought to a 3-3 draw with ‘130th-ranked’ Malaysia. Despite the disappointing result, Lee’s performance shone through.

First, Lee Kang-in assisted Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart) with a precise cross from a corner kick in the 21st minute. Then, in the 38th minute, he scored a fantastic free-kick goal. From a free kick opportunity near the penalty arc, Lee unleashed an exquisite shot. It was headed into the corner of the goal, hit the crossbar and then into the hands of Malaysian goalkeeper Ahmad Hazmi (Johor Darul).

AFC initially attributed the goal to Hajmi’s own goal, not Lee’s. However, the trajectory of Lee’s shot was on target. AFC corrected the score a day later.

It was Lee’s third goal of the tournament. In the first leg against Bahrain, Lee also scored a multi-goal performance to lead his team to a 3-1 victory. Even Spain’s Dario Asse said at the time, “Lee Kang-in is the new king of Asian soccer” and “He took out his wand and worked his magic. His goals remind me of the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)”. Keeping up the good vibes, Lee rattled the net against Malaysia.

South Korea finished second in Group E with one win and two draws (5 points) and advanced to the Round of 16. They will face Middle Eastern powerhouse Saudi Arabia in the round of 16.

This puts him in a position to contend for the top scorer in the tournament. Lee is third on the scoring list with three goals. He is tied with Qatari striker Akram Afif (Al Sadd) and Japanese striker Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord). Not far behind is top scorer and Iraqi striker Aymen Hussein (Spaxien) with five goals.

Hussein, Ayase Ueda (Japan) and Faizal Harim (Malaysia) round out the Best 11. Hussain had a multi-goal performance against Vietnam in the third round of the group stage. Ueda also scored two goals against Indonesia to lead her team to victory. Harim scored the equalizer against South Korea. He beat Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) and Cho Hyun-woo (Ulsan HD) on the counterattack.

In the midfield, Lee was joined by Parvizon Umarbaev (Uzbekistan), Mehdi Taremi (Iran), and Ali Jassim (Iraq). The three backs were Musa Al-Batat (Palestine), Abdullah Al-Khaibari (Saudi Arabia), and Farouk Saifieh (Uzbekistan). Saranon Anulin (Thailand) was in goal.