SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has called up English Premier League stars Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yeung for vital 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Uzbekistan.
South Korea needs at least four points from matches against Iran in Seoul on Aug. 31 and Uzbekistan in Tashkent five days later to be sure of heading to Russia next summer.
There have been injury concerns over both players. Son, who scored 21 goals last season for Tottenham Hotspur, fractured his arm for his country in a 3-2 loss in Qatar in June. Ki, the national team’s captain, picked up a knee injury in the same game.
“There is more possibility of Ki playing in the second game,” recently-appointed head coach Shin Tae-yong told a news conference Monday. “I have been in regular contact with him and with some new players in the squad, we need players like Ki.”
Ki did not feature for Swansea City in its opening league 0-0 draw at Southampton on Saturday.
There was better news regarding Son, who appeared as a second-half substitute for Spurs in an opening day 2-0 win at Newcastle, wearing a bandage on his arm.
Shin, in charge for his first game after Uli Stielike was fired in June following a third loss in five qualifying matches, also recalled 38-year-old striker Lee Dong-gook in his 26-man roster.
South Korea sits second in Group A in the third round of Asian qualifying, seven points behind the already-qualified Iran and just a point ahead of Uzbekistan.
Only the top two in both six-team groups progress automatically to Russia. The third-place teams from Groups A and B will meet in an October two-match Asian elimination game for the right to enter a final play-off against CONCAFAF’s fourth-placed team.
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