Son Heung-min's Injury Deals Blow to Korea's World Cup Plans

  • By Sung Jin-hyuk

    November 04, 2022 10:51

    Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min's injury has created a major headache for Korea's national football team manager Paulo Bento as the World Cup is set to start in some two weeks' time.
    Son will undergo surgery after sustaining a facial injury during a UEFA Champions League match against Olympique de Marseille on Tuesday. It is not yet clear how long it will take for him to recover.
    Bento has mostly called up players based in Korea for the country's last pre-World Cup friendly against Iceland scheduled for Nov. 11, and is due to announce the final 26-man roster for the World Cup the following day.
    Paulo Bento
    Korean footballers will leave for Qatar on Nov. 14, while those based in Europe will join them after performing their club duties.
    The 32 countries participating in the World Cup must submit their final rosters to FIFA by Nov. 14. Teams are allowed to replace players who are unable to compete due to injury or disease up to 24 hours before their first matches.
    If there is even a slim chance that Son, the team's top player and captain, will recover from surgery in time to play, Bento is likely to include him in the roster and see how things go.
    Son has taken various attacking positions in the national squad according to Bento's strategy. Without him, the team will lose tactical flexibility, lowering its chances of reaching the knockout stage.
    There is a possibility that Bento will select Lee Kang-in of RCD Mallorca, who has rarely joined the national squad for its World Cup preparations. He was included in the roster for friendlies in September for the first time in 18 months but stayed on the bench.
    Korea is making a 10th consecutive World Cup appearance. The quadrennial event runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.
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