Korean Air’s agony over choosing
Korean Air announced on the 12th that it has completed a public announcement to replace foreign players from Lincoln to Murad.
Lincoln is a key player who contributed to Korean Air’s overall win in the 2021-2022 season and the 2022-2023 season. Although this is the third season, he failed to step on the court after a game against Woori Card on Nov. 30 last year due to knee injury and back injury. At the time, Lincoln was diagnosed for eight weeks.
Korean Air recruited Murad, who played in the Bulgarian league, as a substitute for Lincoln on Dec. 22 last year. Murad scored 152 points in 11 games this season and a 57.20 percent success rate in offense, and displayed explosive power by scoring 52 points alone in the match against Hyundai Capital on Dec. 12.
Lincoln participated in team training after recovering from his injury, but Korean Air chose Murad after much thought.
The biggest reason behind the judgment was that Lincoln was not in the same physical condition as before. Lincoln resumed training, but failed to display as powerful leaps and spikes as he did before the injury. Korean Air, which is competing with Woori Card to rank No. 1 in the regular season, could not afford to wait for Lincoln to recover.
Another factor to consider was the concern that Woori Card could take Murad.
If Korean Air chose Lincoln, Murad would be included again in the foreign player candidate list and Woori Card could take Murad as a substitute player accordingly. Woori Card was looking for a substitute due to the ankle injury of the main gun Mattei Kok of Slovenia, and Murad was also inside Woori Card’s radar network.
If Korean Air had released Murad, chances were high that Woori Card would immediately sign Murad, a proven player. In this case, Korean Air would have met Murad again as an enemy. In the end, Korean Air reportedly decided to tie Murad up to avoid dealing with him as an enemy.
Korean Air also has fond memories of foreign players. When Andrés Villena of Spain was injured during the 2020-2021 season, Korean Air recruited Yosvani Hernandez of Cuba as a substitute. Thanks to Yosvani’s performance, Korean Air won its second championship title after its foundation. Coincidentally, Woori Card was also the opponent against the championship.
Since then, Korean Air has won the combined championship in the 2021-2022 season and the 2022-2023 season, achieving three consecutive combined wins (winning regular league + championship game) for the first time after traditional Korean singer Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance. With that in mind, Korean Air is aiming for the first four consecutive combined wins in the V-League in this 2023-2024 season.
With Korean Air wrapping up its concerns over Murad and Lincoln, volleyball fans’ eyes are now on Woori Card.
Woori Card, which missed Murad, is reportedly looking for a new foreign player to replace Mattei. However, the scope of players it can bring in is limited and leagues in other countries are in full swing, making it difficult to recruit him.
In the meantime, it has been confirmed that Mattei is being treated in Korea without returning to his home country. If Mattei, who was diagnosed with a 10-week cure, recovers quickly, it seems that he can’t rule out the possibility of returning during the postseason in April.