DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Son Heung-min is likely to mask as South Korea take on Uruguay in the opener of Group H at the World Cup in Qatar.
Son has scored 35 goals in 104 caps but has not played since November 2, when he fractured his left eye in a clash with Marseille’s Chancel Mbemba in a Champions League game.
Son, who was Premier League top scorer last season, has said he expects to play with a protective mask. But one has to worry about how effective he can be – and the dangers of playing with the mask he’s been wearing in training since arriving in Qatar.
Much of the South Korean attack relies on Son’s speed, ability to hit with both feet and accuracy on dead balls.
Forward Luis Suarez will represent Uruguay in his fourth World Cup alongside veteran team-mate Edinson Cavani.
Suarez has scored seven World Cup goals. That’s down on national record holder Óscar Míguez, who played on the winning team in 1950.
Uruguay faces a generational change on the pitch, with veteran players like Suarez and Cavani likely to feature at their last World Cup.
There are also changes on the bench. Oscar Tabarez is gone and will be replaced by Diego Alonso, who has little experience at this level. Tabarez led Uruguay to three World Cups but resigned earlier this year after a string of poor results. It was Tabarez who led the team to the semi-finals at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Suarez is notorious for multiple biting incidents on the pitch. In a game at the 2018 World Cup in Brazil, he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. The referee did not see the incident, but Suarez faced severe retrospective action and was suspended from all football-related activities for four months, given a nine-game international ban and a hefty fine.
It was Suarez’s second controversial World Cup moment. In the final minute of extra time in the 2010 quarter-final game against Ghana, Suarez was sent off after holding off Dominic Adiyiah’s header with his hands. Asamoah Gyan hit the bar with the subsequent penalty and Suárez celebrated on the touchline.
Ghana lost on penalties, failing to become Africa’s first semi-finalist as the continent hosted its first World Cup.
Brazil and Serbia round out Group H, with many viewing Brazil as tournament favorites.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup