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ESPN: ‘Lee Kang-in, Kim Min-jae, Hwang In-beom, and Cho Gue-sung to lead in 2025 World Cup’

ESPN: ‘Lee Kang-in, Kim Min-jae, Hwang In-beom, and Cho Gue-sung to lead in 2025 World Cup’

Posted December. 10, 2022 07:26,   

Updated December. 10, 2022 07:26


“South Korea should discover more ‘wonder kids’ like Lee Kang-in.”

Lee Kang-in (21, Mallorca) has been singled out as a South Korean soccer player who will be spotlighted at the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America (Canada, the U.S., and Mexico).

U.S. sports channel ESPN on Friday carried a report on the outlook on the 2026 World Cup for the six countries of the Asian Football Confederation, which took part in the World Cup soccer finals in Qatar. The channel ranked in alphabetical order expected scores of the six nations, with Korea receiving ‘B+,’ which is the second highest.

“Son Heung-min will become 34 years old in 2026. He will continue to display world-class performance but may come to need more help from his teammates than now,” ESPN said. “It was fortunate that Team Korea gave younger players a chance to play in the round of 16 matches.” Korea fielded Baek Seung-ho (25, Jeonbuk Hyundai FC), Lee Kang-in and others as substitutes in the second half of the match.

Both Defender Kim Min-jae (Napoli FC), who will turn 30 four years from now, and midfielder Hwang In-beom (Olympiacos FC) will become the perfect age in terms of performance. The U.S. sports outlet also paid attention to Cho Gue-sung (24, Jeonbuk), who scored two goals in the group league match against Ghana.

“He will be 25 years old four years later, and he can build up experience while playing for European clubs,” ESPN commented on Lee Kang-in, expressing its expectations of his performance at the 2026 event.

Japan, which advanced to the round of 16 along with South Korea, received ‘A,’ the highest score among the six countries. “Japan’s failure (in the round of 16 match against Croatia) to make its first-ever advance to the quarterfinals due to shootout defeat could be a strong motivation for the team for 2026. It has many under-30 players who have experienced the World Cup. Their existence is a good sign for Japan’s future,” it said.

Australia, which also advanced to the knockout round, received ‘B+,’ Saudi Arabia, which had a 2-1 upset win against Argentina in the group league first match, earned ‘B,’ while Iran gained ‘B-,’ and Qatar ‘C,’ respectively.