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(World Cup) 2 injured players question marks vs. Portugal: coach

All News 21:07 December 01, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

AL RAYYAN, Qatar, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's two nicked-up players, defender Kim Min-jae and midfielder Hwang Hee-chan, are both question marks in the team's final group stage match against Portugal on Friday, head coach Paulo Bento said on the eve of the match.

Kim has been battling through a right calf injury, while Hwang has been hobbled by a hamstring injury.

"Hee-chan will be training, but I can't tell you whether he will be playing or not," Bento said at his prematch press conference at the Main Media Centre in Al Rayyan, just west of Doha, on Thursday. "With Min-jae, we still haven't made the decision. We have to wait until tomorrow."

South Korean defender Kim Min-jae (L) rides a stationary bicycle during a training session for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Dec. 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korean defender Kim Min-jae (L) rides a stationary bicycle during a training session for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Dec. 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea will close out Group H play against Portugal at 6 p.m. Friday at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, or midnight Saturday in South Korea.

Kim picked up his injury in a goalless draw against Uruguay last Thursday. He missed the following two days of training but still played against Ghana on Monday, getting subbed out during second-half stoppage time.

Following the 3-2 loss to Ghana, Kim sat out training sessions and was seen only riding a stationary bicycle during the 15 minutes of the official training session that were opened to the media on Thursday.

Kim is by far the best center back for South Korea and even at less than 100 percent, Kim will still be an important piece for the Taegeuk Warriors in their must-win match against Portugal.

Hwang missed both of South Korean matches so far, though he has returned to full training following the Ghana match earlier in the week.

Kim Min-jae of South Korea (L) stays down in pain during the team's Group H match against Ghana at the FIFA World Cup at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha, on Nov. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

Kim Min-jae of South Korea (L) stays down in pain during the team's Group H match against Ghana at the FIFA World Cup at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha, on Nov. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea must win that match and get help from the other Group H match on Friday between Uruguay and Ghana.

A combination of a South Korean victory and a Uruguay win, or a South Korean win and a Uruguay-Ghana draw could send South Korea to the knockouts in a tiebreaking scenario.

South Korea are playing in their 11th World Cup and they have been to the knockouts twice before, reaching the semifinals in 2002 and the round of 16 in 2010.

South Korean midfielder Hwang Hee-chan trains for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Dec. 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korean midfielder Hwang Hee-chan trains for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Dec. 1, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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