Breaking: Asian Games Roster Released

The long awaited Asian Games roster is finally released and yes, Lee Kang In is included for now. There were rumors that PSG were going to block it as LKI does technically have the next Asian Games + the Paris Olympics to win military exemption. It sounds like the KFA and PSG are still in talks at the moment to sort this out, but Hwang Sun Hong sounds optimistic that it’ll happen. Anyway, we will examine all the selections by position as follows:

Goalkeepers: Kim Jung Hoon, Lee Gwang Yeon, Min Seong Jun

No surprises here and pretty expected. Lee Gwang Yeon seems like the first choice GK at the moment (he was our 2019 U20 GK) and he is getting a few games here and there for Gangwon FC. I’ve always thought that Kim Jung Hoon was an odd pick for this team because 1) he already has exemption so why is he even here and 2) he is actually Jeonbuk’s #1 right now whereas both LGY and Min Seong Jun are rotation keepers for Gangwon and Incheon respectively. Some would definitely rate Kim Jung Hoon higher than Lee Gwang Yeon as well. Either way, we knew it’d be these three keepers all along.

Fullbacks: Seol Yong Woo (wild card), Park Kyu Hyeon, Hwang Jae Won, Choi Joon

Seol Yong Woo and Hwang Jae Won in my opinion will be our starting fullbacks. Seol Yong Woo is just about in this age category (he’s 24) but because he was born in December, he is not eligible as a regular player for the Asian Games. But regardless of this, he is one of the best fullbacks in the K League (if not the best) capable of playing both LB and RB even tho he is very right footed. In the most recent friendlies for the senior team he even established himself as the deserving starting senior KNT fullback. Hwang Jae Won is a high flying young RB for Daegu FC who has won K League young player of the month on numerous occasions. In the first leg of the friendlies against China he was one of our best players on the field.

Given the grueling schedule that comes with the AG, having depth in the squad is extremely important. And this is something this team shines at even at fullback. Park Kyu Hyeon of Dynamo Dresden (3. Bundesliga) may not have been too effective in his one outing against El Salvador for the senior KNT but he will surely be a force at the U23 level. Choi Joon was one of the stars of the 2019 U20 squad – he was the starting LB and the one who scored the winner vs Ecuador after a cheeky Lee Kang In pass from a free kick. Now he plies his trade with Busan where he has also been deployed as both LB and RB.

There is a very notable omission here: Lee Tae Seok. He is the well established starting LB for FC Seoul and was expected to make the squad. LTS is definitely one of the better FBs in the K League who has been with this squad for a long time. It seems a little strange that he was excluded while Park Kyu Hyeon (3.Buli) and Choi Jun (K2) were chosen. But either way, FB for once may be a strong point of the squad. Something we have not seen in ages.

Center backs: Lee Han Beom, Lee Jae Ik, Lee Sang Min, Park Jin Seob (wild card)

Lee Han Beom is a no brainer as among the most promising CBs in the K League. Lee Jae Ik of K2 outfit Seoul E Land and Lee Sang Min of Seongnam FC are also no brainers who have been with this team from the start. Lee Jae Ik may captain this team… unless they pick Lee Kang In for that role.. which they probably will now that I think about it.

There are murmurings that Lee Sang Min may be swapped with another CB due to an unresolved drunk driving scandal. It turns out that in 2020 LSM was charged with a DUI and the apparent issue is that he never reported this to his club – he played 3 matches (when he wasn’t supposed to) before he was caught. He was fined and everything but it seems that there is still controversy in Korea about this.

Let’s talk about Park Jin Seob. Not too many people know who he is, but is a 27 year old defensive midfielder for Jeonbuk Hyundai. He is a regular starter for them too, this season, last season, and prior to his transfer to Jeonbuk at Daejeon. For K League standards he is a solid and tidy DM – not someone who might transfer to Europe sometime soon, but gets the job done. Every once in a while, he deputizes as CB which is why he is listed as one here. However, I actually think he may be more often utilized as a DM because we are sorely lacking in true defensive midfielders, which I will go into in the next section:

Central midfield: Paik Seung Ho (wild card), Jung Ho Yeon

The midfield list is long yet the vast majority of them are wingers or attacking mids. But what you’ll notice here is that these guys are #8 types… not #6 types. That’s where Park Jin Seob comes in. Against real opposition e.g. Japan or Australia, we’re going to need a proper DM, though I’m sure that against most teams we can afford to play someone like PSH or JHY as a defensive mid. Maybe Hong Hyeon Seok could slot in here too, but to me he is a litttle more offensively minded than the other two.

Paik Seung Ho honestly deserves a shot at exemption like Lee Seung Woo. I think he’s a great wild card pick and someone we all knew was going to be chosen as one of the three. Jung Ho Yeon is a promising box to box type midfielder for Gwangju with links to Celtic FC. And we all know Hong Hyeon Seok.

One somewhat notable omission here is Kim Bong Soo. I genuinely thought he’d get picked as he is a proper defensive mid after such a great showing vs China (and also in the prior friendlies). I would be very upset if I was him. I guess Hwang Sun Hong thought that Park Jin Seob would be enough as a DM?

Another omission could be Kwon Hyuk Kyu, a true DM for Busan, but as we discussed last time he is already exempt and was unlikely to be chosen to begin with.

Attacking midfielders: Lee Kang In, Hong Hyeon Seok, Go Young Joon, Um Won Sang, Song Min Kyu, Jeong Woo Young, Cho Young Wook

I think I can safely say that we are STACKED in this department. The depth in here is insane – not only are there guys playing for PSG not to mention VFL Stuttgart and KAA Gent on here, we have some of the hottest talents from the K League in Song Min Kyu, Go Young Joon and Um Won Sang. Cho Young Wook is also one of those guys who provides great depth and versatility and always makes it to these national team setups (like he was an AFC U22 winner in 2020 but then was ALSO on the 2022 AFC U22 squad where Hwang Sun Hong lost to Japan in the quarters). This is what really gives me confidence – when both your A Team and your B Team are good enough to win the whole tournament on paper, you probably will do it despite having a somewhat incompetent manager!

Notable omissions here: the big one must be Yang Hyun Jun. Admittedly Yang is a year younger than the rest, but for him to win exemption he will have to be chosen as a wild card in 2026. Or maybe we’ll miraculously do well in 2024 in the Olympics where he wouldn’t be a wild card, but fat chance. There’s also Eom Ji Sung from Gwangju as well.

CF: Park Jae Yong, Ahn Jae Jun

This is probably where most of us have concerns. As I alluded to in my prior posts, we don’t have very many strong strikers in this team. But a lot of people expected Cheon Seong Hoon, the in-form ex-Augsburg striker with 6 goals in his last 9 matches for Incheon United. Somehow instead Hwang Sun Hong went for two little known K2 strikers who do admittedly have good stats this season… but not too many people have watched them play. Park Jae Yong (1.93 m) has 6 goals and 1 assist in 16 games for Anyang FC, while Ahn Jae Jun (1.85 m) has 6 goals 3 assists in 14 games for Bucheon. If any of you guys have insight on these guys please let us know in the comments.

Notable omissions: outside of Cheon Seong Hoon, there are three strikers who were never in consideration anyway but were floated by fans. First of course is Oh Hyeon Gyu, who is young enough but already has exemption (not to mention Celtic would likely block this). Second is K League top scorer Joo Min Kyu, who was apparently very close to being selected as a wildcard because we have no good forwards this generation. And finally there is Oh Se Hun. He tore apart the U20 world cup in 2019 and complemented Lee Kang In extremely well. Unfortunately he made a baffling move to the J League and has completely lost form at the moment.

And there we have it. Not too many surprises. We knew some good attacking mids like Yang Hyun Jun had to get cut, while it was pretty clear from the news rumblings that Paik Seung Ho, Seol Young Woo, and Park Jin Seob would be the wildcards (good selections). The big worry of course is Hwang Sun Hong himself (you guys thought I’d say the forwards didn’t you), having botched so many tournaments in the lead up to this all important military exemption granting event. But we undoubtedly have the single strongest squad in the tournament and hopefully we can win in spite of the manager.

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