DOHA– After missing a match with a calf injury, South Korean defender Kim Min-jae was back in team training camp on Sunday, doing some light running on the eve of South Korea’s round of 16 match against Brazil at the ongoing FIFA World Cup.
The national team conducted the “Matchday-1” training session at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Sunday. The 26-man squad first gathered for an informal 10-minute session just in front of their locker room, away from the assembled media, and then had the official, 15-minute session on the full practice field open to the press.
South Korea, world No. 28, and top-ranked Brazil will meet in the round of 16 at Stadium 974 in Doha starting at 10 p.m. Monday in local time, or 4 a.m. Tuesday in South Korea.
South Korea have reached this point by beating Portugal 2-1 in their final Group H match on Friday. Kim did not play, while nursing a right calf injury he’d picked up in the opening group match against Uruguay on Nov. 24.
Kim played through some obvious pains against Ghana in the team’s second match. He skipped training sessions after that game and then ended up missing the Portugal match.
Kim only rode a stationary bicycle in sessions between the second and third group matches, away from the rest of the team. On Sunday, at least, Kim did some light sprinting — not at full intensity but not at a casual pace, either.
Kim is easily the best defender for South Korea. Without the 26-year-old center back, South Korea will have their hands full trying to contain the high-octane offense of Brazil, led by the likes of Richarlison, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Neymar.
South Korea will only have two days off between their final group match and the first knockout match. They had a full rest day on Saturday. A national team official said the focus is more on recovery at this point than anything tactical.
South Korea head coach Paulo Bento will be back on the bench against Brazil, after watching the Portugal match from the stands. He was suspended for one match after getting a red card over an argument with referee Anthony Taylor in the aftermath of a 3-2 loss to Ghana.
Source: Yonhap news Agency