Injured defender returns to training on eve of must-win match

DOHA– South Korean defender Kim Min-jae returned to the team’s training camp on Thursday, the eve of a must-win group stage match against Portugal, after sitting out the previous day’s session to nurse a lingering right leg injury.
Kim, however, was only seen riding a stationary bicycle instead of joining the rest of his 26-man squad during the first 15 minutes of the official, “Matchday-1” session that were open to the media at Al Egla Training Site in Doha.

Kim, the best center back for the Taegeuk Warriors, hurt his right calf during a goalless draw against Uruguay last Thursday, trying to chase down forward Darwin Nunez on a counterattack opportunity in the second half. Kim stayed on to finish the match but then missed the following two days of training.

And then on the day before South Korea’s second match against Ghana, Kim reappeared, though he also rode the bicycle without doing other drills during the first 15 minutes then.

Head coach Paulo Bento still inserted Kim into the starting lineup against Ghana. South Korea lost the match 3-2 with Kim being subbed out during the second-half stoppage time.

In another injury-related development, midfielder Hwang Hee-chan was once again a full participant after missing the previous two matches with a hamstring injury. The winger hadn’t even been available off the bench in those two games but he appears ready to play Friday against Portugal.

South Korea must defeat Portugal and have a Uruguay win or a Uruguay-Ghana draw Friday to progress to the round of 16 in a tiebreaking scenario.

Portugal have already booked their place in the last 16 with two straight wins. Ghana are in second place with three points. South Korea and Uruguay have a point apiece.

Source: Yonhap News Agency