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World Cup: why is Son Heung-min wearing a mask for South Korea?

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Son Heung-min wears a mask at the Qatar World Cup as South Korea look to climb out of Group H.

The Tottenham striker has won a fitness battle to take part in the tournament despite suffering a fracture around his left eye in a Champions League game against Marseille.

The 30-year-old was sent off with an injury in the first half of the 2-1 win against OM on November 1 and later required surgery.

The incident happened following a shoulder to the face by Chancel Mbemba.

But after three weeks, Son was allowed to join the Asian Tigers.

Son joined his teammates last Saturday and will wear a black protective mask, with manager Paulo Bento imposing a team gag to discuss his star player’s health for the opener against Uruguay.

“We should check and analyze day by day, let it come,” Bento said. “We have time to make the right decisions and the best decisions for all of us.”

Son was determined to make the World Cup for his country, adding in the build-up to Qatar 2022: “I won’t miss it for the world. I look forward to representing our beautiful country.

“I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone for the messages of support I received last week. I have read so many of them and I really appreciate you all. In a difficult time I have received a lot of strength of you!

Son Heung-min during training in South Korea

(AFP via Getty Images)

“Playing for your country at the World Cup is the dream of so many kids growing up, just as it was one of mine.”

If Son needed a few games to regain his sharpness, the Taegeuk Warriors could rely on Hwang Hee-Chan, Hwang Ui-Jo and Lee Jae-Sung to deliver in the final third.

But South Korea will be hoping Son can make the difference as they take on Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana in Group H.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org