Lee Ki-je (Suwon Samsung) was the subject of controversy when the final roster for the Asian Cup was announced.
He was a side defender who consistently joined the national team after Jurgen Klinsmann’s appointment, but his team Suwon has not been on the ground since the match against Incheon United on September 30.
Still, the coach defended Lee. “Lee had a tough season in his team,” Clinton said. “However, whenever he was called up to the national team, he displayed his strong attitude at the training site. He fully played the role. He has always shown professional attitude,” the coach said, taking Lee to the Asian Cup.
Despite the ongoing controversy, the team saved Lee Ki-je. Following the warm-up match with Iraq, Lee started in the first match with Bahrain on Friday, which he stressed was the most important match in the Asian Cup.
However, Lee Ki-je’s play was full of regret.
He never scored a cross, which was considered his strength. He also had a hard time in defense, which is an essential virtue for a defender. He won the ball only once in six competitions. As he failed to play for his team for three months, his performance seemed to be deteriorating.
He was warned of an unreasonable foul in the first half, and missed the striker in the process of losing the point in the sixth minute of the second half when his team was leading 1-0. He only looked at Abdullah al-Hasasi when his Bahraini shot was running against the defender.
Coach Klinsmann also took out a sword. Immediately after the loss, Lee Ki-je was brought to the bench and Kim Tae-hwan (Jeonbuk Hyundai) was deployed. He was a match-winner who moved Seol Young-woo (Ulsan HD) to the left. After the match, he explained that he was concerned about accumulating warnings, but it was effectively replacing him with a reprimand.
In the end, Lee Kang-in scored consecutive goals and won 3-1.
Lee was a key player in the team. Since Clinton’s inauguration, Lee has started 11 games out of 12 games (including games against Bahrain).
However, the team failed to secure the win in the match against Bahrain. As Kim Jin-soo (Jeonbuk Hyundai) had no choice in the match against Bahrain due to injury, he has more regrets about the team’s shortlist. Manager Clinton is agonizing over left-handed defenders.