November 28, 2022 10:48
Korea faces off against Ghana on Monday in its second group match of the World Cup in Qatar.
After earning one point from a goalless draw with Uruguay in its opening match on Nov. 24, Korea needs to win its second match to boost its chances of reaching the knockout stage.
Korea, which is making its 10th consecutive appearance at the quadrennial event, has advanced to the round of 16 twice, in 2002 and 2010.
Ghana, currently ranked 61st in the world, performed respectably in its opening match against European powerhouse Portugal (No. 9), which barely secured a 3-2 win against the African country. Korea is ranked 28th and Uruguay 14th.
But some key players including Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao, Mohammed Salisu of Southampton and Tariq Lamptey of Brighton & Hove Albion are new to the Ghanaian national team.
They have outstanding skills but have not had enough time to fully integrate with the other national squad members. As a result, Ghana has a tendency to use strategies based on players' individual skills rather than teamwork, and to play tough. The team committed 19 fouls and received four yellow cards during last week's match against Portugal.
Korea's key attacker Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers will again be on the bench due to his constant hamstring problems, but will likely be able to play in the third match against Portugal on Dec. 2, as he began training with the team again during the weekend.
Na Sang-ho of FC Seoul and Lee Kang-in of RCD Mallorca will play in the right wing position.
The biggest problem for Korea is the uncertainty over the form of defender Kim Min-jae of Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli. Kim twisted his ankle when he slipped while chasing Darwin Nunez of Uruguay during the last match. He remained on the field for the whole match but has apparently been experiencing pain.
Kim missed the training sessions last Friday and Saturday, restricting himself to a light warm-up with taped calves on Sunday. If the key defender misses the upcoming match, it will make it hard for Korea to blunt the aggression of the Ghanaian players.
Korea's team manager Paulo Bento said on Sunday that he "will decide if he's going to start the game or not" on Monday morning.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com