Kang looks for a clean slate after tough year

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Kang looks for a clean slate after tough year

Having ended the year on a sour note, former Incheon United forward Kang Soo-il, 23, is approaching the new year more determined than ever.

Released by Incheon United earlier this month, Kang is set to undergo physical tests today ahead of signing a contract with an undisclosed K-League club.

Kang’s release from Incheon came in the wake of an indefinite suspension after being charged with assault for his role in a bar brawl on Nov. 2.

“I will approach the new opportunity with the mentality that I had as a young player trying to break onto the Incheon United squad,” said Kang.

“I’ve thought about the Nov. 2 incident and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I regret being there that night.

“I cut off all contact and didn’t leave my [apartment] for a while. I just started working out again about 15 days ago. I thought the only way to recover from the incident was to show people my responsible side.”

According to police reports, Kang and teammate Lee Se-joo were booked for assault on Nov. 2 in Incheon’s Yeonsu District. The two players were out drinking and got into an argument with each other, which escalated into an altercation with another group at the bar.

“The players got into a heated argument, a nearby group told them to quiet down and the incident escalated from there,” a law enforcement officer said. “Kang and Lee ended up grabbing the other patrons by their collars.”

Kang was a promising prospect for Incheon United when he joined the squad in 2007, winning a K-League Reserve Team match MVP in 2008. He earned a spot on the first team in 2009 and scored five goals and added one assist in 27 league and cup matches.

In 2010, Kang scored four goals and added an assist in 25 league and cup games. He scored two goals in a May 26 match against Daegu FC.

“I don’t want to blame anyone for the incident,” said Kang. “I want to apologize to my friend Se-joo. This all happened because I lost sight of my goal when I had a tryout with Incheon United in 2007. After the tryout, I thought to myself while sitting in [Incheon] Munhak Stadium’s steam room that I would give it my all if I made the team. I think I had lost focus over the years.”

Kang has received media attention in the past for being a multiracial player with a lot of potential.

The incident was an isolated case for the 23-year-old forward known for his devotion. A child of a Korean mother and a U.S. military serviceman, Kang is known to have given his earnings - except about 300,000 won ($261.60) for personal spending - to his mother, who is suffering from a herniated disc.

Kang is also involved in several community outreach programs, including a multicultural youth football team.

“I went to a year-end event for the Ansan M Kids Football School, but stood at the back of the room and merely watched the kids sing for a while before leaving,” said Kang. “I realized that as a role model, I need to change and provide hope for the kids.”

More focused and determined than ever, Kang said he will work hard during the offseason to prepare himself for next season.

“It’s meaningless for me to set goals on how many goals I will score next season,” said Kang. “I want to be well-conditioned for next season and more active in games. I think I will be able to get back on track if I approach my new opportunity with the mindset I had prior to joining Incheon United.”

By Lee Jung-chan, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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