Rising Stars

Lee Kang-in gearing up for new La Liga season

Valencia: Lee Kang-in is relishing the start of the new La Liga season as the Korea Republic midfielder sharpened his goal scoring instincts for Valencia over the weekend.

The 19-year-old netted twice in a 3-1 win over second division side FC Cartagena in a friendly on Saturday and, with only a week to go until Los Che kick off their 2020/21 campaign against Levante on September 13, Lee was delighted with the performance of the team.

“We’re happy to have taken the win ahead of a very important season,” he told the club’s official media. “I think that we are working rather well.

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“The coaching staff are very demanding of us and the players are really up for it. We’re looking forward to starting the La Liga season and having a good campaign.”

Lee claimed his first of the game 20 minutes from time when he raced in to dispossess Cartagena goalkeeper Esteve Pena and hook the ball into the empty to net to pull Valencia level after Nacho Gil had earlier given the second division side the lead.

Midfielder Jason put Valencia in front four minutes later before Lee put the result beyond doubt with a left foot finish after a neat turn earned him space inside the penalty area.

“I’m happy with the two goals, but I’m happier with the feeling that the team are on the pace,” he said. “We’re playing how we want, we’re united and we are keen to have a very good season. I think that, besides the goals, what pleases me is the good feeling and the desire we have for a good season.

“There are things we practice during training. The whole team made a great effort and we are feeling good. We have to keep going so that we are in as good shape as possible for La Liga.”

Valencia have undergone a challenging 2020, with the club finishing ninth in the 2019/20 standings, with head coach Albert Celades fired before the end of the season. Since then several key players, including former captain Dani Parejo and talented winger Ferran Torres, have also left the club.

New coach Javi Gracia has taken over at the helm and Lee is emerging as a key player going into the new season as the Mestalla-based side look to put their troubles behind them to challenge for a place in the upper reaches of the table.

“I think that these preseason games have helped us for the upcoming competitions,” said Lee. “We are going to give everything through to the final minute of the final game, so that we can take the three points in every match.

“It’s very important to feel good physically and have a good rhythm going. I think that this has come from our preseason training. It’s been good and has helped us a lot. It’s not just me, I think that everybody is in good shape. I think we are well prepared to compete well in La Liga.”

Photos: AFP

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