PREVIEW: South Korea sweat on Son ahead of wildcard opener with Uruguay – SABC News

The South Koreans will be eagerly awaiting news on whether captain Son Heung-min will be available when they need him most as the Asian giants begin their World Cup campaign on Thursday against a Uruguay side with a track record of deep runs in the tournament.

The Tottenham Hotspur forward suffered multiple fractures around his left eye three weeks ago and has been training in Qatar wearing a black protective mask reminiscent of the evil vigilante Zoro

Group H also includes Portugal and Ghana, meaning Son’s relentless threat and firepower against a shaky Uruguayan defense will be vital for South Korea to gain crucial early chances, nullifying Uruguay’s attacking prowess.

South Korea coach Paulo Bento has put in a command order to keep Son fit for the World Cup, hoping to keep Uruguay’s strategists in the dark.

“We have to check and analyze every day, let him come,” Bento said ahead of Qatar.

“We have time to make the right and best decisions for all of us.”

Son is desperate to play, fearing further injury from premature return, said last week he was ‘more than willing to take those risks’

Uruguay once again lead the tournament with a squad that combines a proven old guard of players aged 35 and over with exciting young talent looking to make their mark at their first World Cup

They include Liverpool’s record signing Darwin Nunes, who is expected to be paired with the aging Luis Suarez, a key component in Uruguay’s impressive march to the 2010 World Cup semi-finals.

Nunes, 23, is 12 years younger than Suarez and fellow forward Edinson Cavani, who are playing in their fourth World Cup, as is captain and most-capped player Diego Godin.

Among the 13 debutants will be versatile Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde and Manchester United’s Facundo Pellistri, who link up with Tottenham in-form Rodrigo Bentancourt in a midfield that the Uruguayan squad has plenty of depth for.

Coach Diego Alonso sees the large age difference as a boon and believes Uruguay can even win this World Cup like they did in the 1930s and 1950s.

It could be a tall order and commentators have noted weaknesses at the back that South Korea could use, particularly in the centre, while there is no word yet on whether Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo is available after undergoing hip surgery.

Uruguay have reached 14 World Cups and South Korea 11, but neither has a good record in opening matches, with the Asian side losing or drawing the last two World Cups and Uruguay failing to win their opening matches in six of the last seven editions .

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