Guys… it’s happening!
The kid we’ve been following since the good old days of Shootdori … the kid we’ve kept a watchful eye on since the August of 2011 when he moved to Valencia CF.. has finally made his competitive debut with the first team.
Lining up as the LW in Marcelino’s classic 4-4-2 formation (it’s the only one they ever use), LKI started alongside the likes of Kevin Gamiero and Santi Mina against Ebro (a 2nd division team) in the Copa Del Rey. The team was mostly Valencia’s first team – Wass, Soler, Gameiro, and Diakhaby start fairly regularly, the other guys start every once in a while – and Lee Kang In actually played fairly well.
It was a more than satisfactory debut for LKI, who linked up with his teammates well and even hit the post. He fell down a little more than I would have liked, but it’s clear that his physicality is not bad (certainly better than Lee Seungwoo’s). Apparently, LKI is the first Asian player EVER to play for Valencia.
I can’t say for certain whether he’ll be ready for La Liga already, but he’s putting in very good shifts for Valencia Mestalla and given Valencia’s struggles in La Liga right now, I can imagine him getting minutes later on this season. He probably won’t feature for Valencia A in the immediate future, because the next leg of the Valencia-Ebro tie is December 5th. But a La Liga debut is definitely on the horizon. And hopefully, a successful career for Lee Kangin means we can finally get more Koreans playing in La Liga in the future.
For some of his Valencia B highlights, check out his no-look long range goal at 1:15:
After this season ends (by then LKI should’ve made a La Liga appearance or two like Ferran Torres before him), Lee Kangin will jet off to Poland to link up with Korea U20, who recently secured themselves a berth at the FIFA U20 along with Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Qatar.
Yesterday, our U19 team made it to the AFC U19 Championships Final by beating Qatar in the semis. It was a little rough in that the Qataris were quite physical and landed some very questionable challenges on our players, but we beat them 3-1. The 1 was an unfortunate own goal at the very end. Our opponent in the final will be Saudi Arabia after they defeated Japan.
This is a generation that’s been covered fairly extensively on this site – Cho Youngwook, Jeon Sejin, and Um Wonsang carrying this team real hard w/ a very questionable defense. It’s the classic wealth of attacking midfielders but no good defenders dilemma. Kim Jungmin, Lee Kangin, and Bayern Jung Wooyeong belong to this generation, and these guys aren’t even on the squad. The coach is Jung Jungyong – one of my favorite coaches – but seems to be struggling slightly with this team as the defense just will not fix itself (from what I’ve heard).
I don’t know who this commentator is, but his pronunciations aren’t half bad (as in.. the Korean names are recognizable)