Is Lee Kang-In the last?…Military service benefits or Olympic focus, Football Association at crossroads

With Asian soccer’s power leveling, the South Korean men’s U23 national team is at a crossroads. They have to choose between the current strategy of using the Asian Games to qualify for the Olympic Games and military service, or using all other tournaments as a springboard to the Olympics, as Japan has done. If the latter is chosen, the likes of Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) could be the last generation to benefit from military service.

Shocked by the failure of South Korean soccer to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 40 years, the Korea Football Association is grappling with its long-term plans for the Under-23 national team. “The National Power Enhancement Committee or the technical headquarters will present a blueprint after seeing the tournament results report,” an official from the KFA told The Seoul Shinmun on Monday, adding, 토토 “The specifics and timeline will be decided through discussions.”

The issue came to the fore when Hwang Sun-hong, the former coach of South Korea’s U23 team, said on Nov. 27 on his way home from a quarterfinal loss to Indonesia at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024, “We need to change the system as it is difficult to defeat Asian opponents with the current structure.” Hwang, who took over in September 2021 on the condition of a mid-term review after the Asian Games, said, “It’s hard to focus on the Olympics and the preparation period is short if the coach’s longevity depends on the Asian Games performance. We should go to a four-year cycle,” he said, calling for change.

Japan is a prime example. Starting with the 2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup two years ago, Japan fielded a team of U21 players in preparation for the Paris Olympics, two years younger than the tournament’s age limit. The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games were also postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and although players up to the age of 24 were allowed to compete, they did not use any wildcards (over 24) and fielded players under 22. South Korea, which has fielded its best squad at every tournament, defeated Japan 0-3 in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Asian Cup and 2-1 in the final of last year’s Asian Games.

However, it’s hard for South Korea to ignore the Asian Games when military service benefits are at stake. The 2023 edition in Hangzhou will feature three wild cards in Baek Seung-ho (Birmingham City), Park Jin-seob (Jeonbuk Hyundai) and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan HD), as well as overseas players Lee Kang-in and Hong Hyun-seok (Gent). The gold medal was won, but continuity was a problem.

Due to the unique circumstances of the Olympic Games taking place nine months after the Asian Games, only three players – Kim Jung-hoon (Jeonbuk), Hwang Jae-won (Daegu FC), and Ahn Jae-joon (Bucheon FC) – played in both the Hangzhou Asian Games and the final qualifier for the Paris Olympics (U23 Asian Cup) due to age restrictions. That’s a far cry from Japan, which has had the same players for more than two years. Japan reached the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup and cleared the ninth hurdle to qualify for the Olympics.

Kim Dae-gil, a soccer commentator, said on the call, “The speed at which Asian countries are catching up has increased considerably. “The soccer federations need to come up with a long-term roadmap and come up with a plan to help players of a certain age group gain experience,” he said. “They need to think about how to convince the public, saying, ‘This tournament is a process leading up to the Olympics, so stay tuned even if we don’t win. “There’s no continuity because we’re rushing to prepare for each event.

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