With his eyes set on gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games, Chinese coach Huang Sunhong emphasized that his team will “definitely want to win and must win” their first match of the tournament against Kuwait.
“If the players can keep their composure and be patient, rather than feeling rushed or under pressure, they will surely win,” Huang, who coaches the Asian Games soccer team, told reporters before the team’s training session at Aiqing High School in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China, on Monday afternoon.
In many ways, Huang realizes the importance of the first game.
Not only will it be Hwang’s first match, but it will also be the first match for the entire Korean team at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
“There’s a lot of pressure (for the first match of the entire squad), and I understand that,” Hwang said. “There’s also a morale issue for the entire Korean team, so we’ll try to give them a good result and energy with the mindset of representing them together.”
Despite the late start time of 7 p.m. local time, the weather in Jinhua was over 30 degrees.
South Korea’s Group E opener against Kuwait at Jinhua Stadium on Sept. 19 will kick off at a later time of 8:30 p.m., but the “heat” will still be a factor in the subtropical climate of Hangzhou.
“The players are still sweating a lot,” Huang said. “We have a short period of time to prepare and acclimatize, and everyone is on the same page. I think we need to adapt to the local conditions while playing the group stage.”
“We don’t have many injuries right now, (everyone) is in good shape,” he said, but when asked about his attacking plans, he replied, “We’re thinking about a lot of things, but I don’t think the game will go our way. It will be a difficult game.”
“At the end of the 90 minutes, I think (we) can be the winning team,” he added.
On their opponents, Kuwait, he said, “They don’t have a lot of detail, but they are straightforward and have energy. They play a lot of physicality, so it’s important to keep our composure because it can be difficult to stop them.”
He was also anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lee Kang-in (PSG), who will play the role of the team’s ace.
“I think (Lee) will arrive (locally) after 6 p.m. on the 21st,” Hwang said, adding that he will definitely watch the game, which is likely to be Lee’s return from injury.
Lee, who injured his left leg late last month, could play against Borussia Dortmund (Germany) in Group F of the 2023-2024 UEFA Champions League (UCL) on Tuesday morning.
If Lee takes the field, it will be his first match in about a month.
When asked if he would watch the match, Hwang said, “We’ll see,” and added, “I hope (Lee) is 100 percent.” 스포츠토토