(ATTN: ADDS details throughout)
By Yoo Jee-ho
AL RAYYAN, Qatar, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's super-sub midfielder Lee Kang-in earned his first FIFA World Cup starting assignment on Friday in a must-win match against Portugal.
Center back Kim Min-jae, hobbled by a right calf injury, will begin the Group H match on the bench at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha.
Lee had been South Korea's most dangerous offensive weapon coming off the bench in two previous matches, a goalless draw with Uruguay and a 3-2 loss to Ghana. With South Korea needing a win over Portugal, along with help from the other Group H match of the day between Uruguay and Ghana, Lee will now try to spark the offense from the opening kickoff.
South Korea, though, will be missing their best defender in Kim, who hurt himself against Uruguay and played through the injury against Ghana. He has skipped recent training sessions to get treatments on his injured leg but did not recover in time to start South Korea's most important match of this tournament so far.
Kwon Kyung-won will make his first World Cup start in Kim's place.
Another banged-up player, midfielder Hwang Hee-chan, was held out of the starting lineup for the third straight game. He has been slowed by a hamstring injury.
Forward Cho Gue-sung, who scored twice against Ghana, will make his second straight start. Winger Lee Jae-sung is back in the starting lineup after beginning the Ghana match on the bench.
South Koreans do not control their own destiny. In order to reach the round of 16, they must defeat Portugal and get help from the other Group H match of the day between Uruguay and Ghana. A combination of a Korean win and a Uruguay win, or a Korean win and a Uruguay-Ghana draw, could lift South Korea into the knockouts in a tiebreak.
Portugal, with two straight wins, have already booked a spot in the knockout round. They are playing for the top seed in the group, which would help them avoid a potential match against world No. 1 Brazil in the round of 16.
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo will start, though another dangerous attacker, Bruno Fernandes, will be on the bench at the start.
From the Portugal starting lineup that beat Uruguay 2-0 on Monday, only five players are back in against South Korea: Ronaldo, defenders Pepe and Joao Cacelo, midfielder Ruben Neves and goalkeeper Diogo Costa.
South Korea: 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Kim Seung-gyu (1)
Defenders: Kim Jin-su (3), Kim Moon-hwan (15), Kim Young-gwon (19), Kwon Kyung-won (20)
Midfielders: Jung Woo-young (5), Hwang In-beom (6), Son Heung-min (7, captain), Lee Jae-sung (10), Lee Kang-in (18)
Forwards: Cho Gue-sung (9)
Head coach: Paulo Bento
Goalkeeper: Diogo Costa (22)
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (2), Pepe (3), Joao Cancelo (20), Antonio Silva (24)
Midfielders: Vitinha (16), Joao Mario (17), Ruben Neves (18), Matheus Nunes (23)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (7, captain), Ricardo Horta (21)
Head coach: Fernando Santos
Referee: Facundo Tello (ARG)
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