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2022 FIFA World Cup: Is Kim Min-jae fit for South Korea vs. Ghana?

South Korea's star centre back Kim Min-jae has emerged as a doubt for the Taeguk Warriors' second FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match this Monday night against Ghana. Winger Hwang Hee-chan has returned to training but the Wolverhampton Wanderers man is unlikely to feature. But, what do we know so far?
Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images
Napoli centre back and one of South Korea's best players, Kim Min-jae, is a doubt for South Korea's match with Ghana on Monday having missed training on Friday and Saturday with a calf injury.

Yonhap News reports that the injury is not serious and that one official told reporters that Kim has been feeling pain in his calf and has stayed at the team hotel for treatment instead of joining in with training.

Kim Min-jae warms up on an exercise bike (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)
South Korea boss Paulo Bento revealed on Sunday that he still doesn't know whether Kim Min-jae will be able to play but, while speaking at the pre-Ghana press conference, was able to categorically rule out Hwang Hee-chan:

"Hwang Hee-chan is not able to play tomorrow (vs Ghana). We are not sure about Kim Min-jae."

The injury was sustained in the second half of Korea's 0-0 draw with Uruguay on Thursday as Kim slipped while trying to close down Darwin Núñez on the touchline. 

Although the injury was enough to stop Kim in his tracks momentarily, he was able to finish the match. 

Commenting on making his World Cup debut after missing Russia 2018 through injury, Kim said: "I don't (usually) get nervous during games but at first (vs. Uruguay) I was pretty nervous, I was sweating a lot and my heart was racing. It was a good experience."

On the injury, Kim told reporters after Thursday's game that it "isn't serious". 

FNR


His centre back partner Kim Young-gwon revealed that he was "worried" at first, given how important his namesake is to the team, but he "doesn't get the feeling" that it is a big one.

With Ghana and Portugal coming up soon, Kim Min-jae admits that the World Cup giant killings by Japan and Saudia Arabia have given Korea motivation to pull off an upset themselves:

"Watching the two games, it puts a bit of pressure on us. To be honest, I was a bit jealous... I think all our players will have thought that we should be doing that."

Should Kim Min-jae be unable to feature, Paulo Bento will have to decide which of his two understudies he goes for - Gamba Osaka's Kwon Kyung-won or Daejeon Hana Citizen's Cho Yu-min. 

There is also the option of a back three with wing backs should Bento not feel fully confident in a back four without Kim Min-jae. 




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