South Korea sweats on Son Heung-min’s World Cup fate

Tottenham’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (2nd-L) leaves the pitch after sustaining an injury as Tottenham’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura (R) follows him during the UEFA Champions League group D football match between Olympique Marseille (OM) and Tottenham Hotspur at The Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, southern France on November 1, 2022. (Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP)

South Korean football fans were nervously following the saga of Son Heung-min’s facial injury on Friday and fear their World Cup will be ruined if the influential skipper is ruled out.

His club Tottenham said the forward suffered a fracture around his left eye and will have surgery, less than three weeks before the country’s opening match in Qatar.

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The nasty injury, which Son picked up in a Champions League win over Marseille earlier this week, has put his World Cup in doubt.

Spurs and the Korea Football Association are keeping tight-lipped about his chances of making it.

“Regarding Son Heung-min’s status for the World Cup, we will have to monitor his progress after the surgery,” the KFA said.

“We will remain in touch with Tottenham’s medical staff.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that Son had four fractures to his eye socket, with surgery brought forward to Friday to give him more time to recover.

South Korea’s opening match of the World Cup is against Uruguay on November 24. Paulo Bento’s side will also face Ghana and Portugal in Group H.

Son is not only the side’s best player, but captain and talisman. He has 35 goals in 104 international games, including nine in his last 14.

In October last year he came 11th in the voting for the Ballon d’Or, the prestigious award for the world’s best player, and last season jointly won the English Premier League’s Golden Boot for most goals scored.

Though he is yet to lift a trophy at club level, in 2018 he led South Korea to gold at the Asian Games.

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Underlining just what he means to South Korea’s chances, angry fans posted thousands of abusive messages, some racist, on the Instagram account of the Marseille defender who collided with Son to cause the injury.

“Dirty gross player. You messed up our World Cup,” one message aimed a Chancel Mbemba read.

Son’s World Cup fate dominated the sports pages of South Korean newspapers on Friday, including one that featured a detailed diagram of a human skull to show where the injury was.

 ‘Catastrophically devastating’