How well will Korea fare in its four major professional sports -- baseball, basketball, football and volleyball -- in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games? Gold medals in the Asiad have usually served as a boost for the domestic league of each of these sports, and the country hopes to conquer all four. The Asian Games will kick off on September 19.
Baseball has the highest chance for gold. There are no players from overseas leagues on the baseball team led by Ryu Joong-il, manager of the Samsung Lions. The stars from the Korean league include pitchers Kim Kwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong, and hitters Kang Jung-ho, Kim Hyun-soo, Park Byung-ho, and Son Ah-seop. They will try their best to defend the gold medal.
The Korean men's football team hopes to win gold for the first time in 28 years since it stood at the top the podium in Seoul in 1986. Son Heung-min will not be able to join the team as his club Leverkusen declined the request of Korean team manager Lee Kwang-jong. The team still has a strong squad with wild card entries Kim Shin-wook of Ulsan Hyundai in the K-League, and Park Joo-ho of Mainz in Germany. In order to win the elusive gold medal, Korea will need to beat the defending champion Japan and powerful Middle Eastern teams such as Iran, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
The men's basketball team hopes to relive the moment when it beat China for gold in the 2002 Busan Asian Games. The toughest competition will come from Iran and the Philippines, which have a number of players from the NBA, and traditional powerhouse China.
The men's volleyball team is also aiming high. The team is competing in the 2014 Asian Men's Cup Volleyball Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which kicked off on Monday, as a final preparation for the Asiad.