Ever since Lee Kang-in (22-Paris Saint-Germain) won the Golden Ball at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland and was touted as the “next big thing” in South Korean soccer, there was a moment fans had been waiting for.
It was a pass from “genius attacking midfielder” Lee Kang-in that South Korean soccer‘s “treasure” and “captain” Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham) finished with a goal.
The scene unfolded at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in China’s Guangdong Province on Nov. 21.
Lee Kang-in and Son Heung-min combined to make it 2-0 in the 45th minute of the second Group C match between Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korea and China at the 2026 North American World Cup in Asia.
Lee sent in a cross from the right, which Son Heung-min, who was at the near post, headed into the back of the net.
Lee’s assist marked the first time Son Heung-min has scored an A-match goal.
Lee has emerged as one of the most important players in Klinsmann’s system. With his creative passing and soccer intelligence, he has been at the forefront of Klinsmann’s winning streak.
Son Heung-min, still the leader of the national team, is recognized as one of the best goalies in South Korea, Asia, and even Europe.
The fact that South Korean soccer’s best weapon is starting to put the ‘sum’ together for goals is a ‘green light’ to qualify for their 12th consecutive World Cup.
Son Heung-min is not a player who usually attempts headers. Lee Kang-in’s corner kick was so perfect that it made Son Heung-min scratch his head.
Lee made his A-match debut in September 2019 in an exhibition match against Georgia.
On October 10, 2019, he provided his first A-match assist for Hwang Hee-chan’s (Wolverhampton) goal against Sri Lanka in the second Asian qualifier for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Lee was rarely called upon by then-head coach Paulo Bento, and was only recalled for the main tournament in Qatar.
He famously came on as a second-half substitute in South Korea’s 2-3 group stage loss to Ghana to set up Cho Kyu-sung’s (Meatwillan) 1-2 comeback goal that turned the tide of the game.
Lee followed that up with back-to-back assists against Vietnam in October (6-0 South Korea win) and Singapore in the first leg of the second World Cup qualifier (5-0 South Korea win).
He set up goals for Kim Min-jae (Munich) against Vietnam and Cho Kyu-sung against Singapore. 슬롯게이밍