World Cup features Uruguay’s Suarez vs. South Korea’s Son

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Coach Paulo Bento admitted there were risks for Premier League midfielder Son Heung-min when he took the field wearing a mask in Group H’s opening match against Uruguay at the World Cup.

Son has not played since breaking his left eye on November 2 in a Champions League match for his English club Tottenham in a collision with Marseille’s Chancel Mbemba.

“You know, and we know, that after an injury we can’t rule out any danger,” Bento said.

Son and his team face a physical Uruguay team that combines the experience of former veterans Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani – both appearing in their fourth World Cup – and a supporting group of promising young players led by Federico Valverde of Real Madrid.

Bento called the training sessions with Nyana “normal” but said the test will come when the game starts.

“We will see tomorrow how it will be,” said Bento. “We hope he will feel as comfortable as possible. And we will use the best strategy during the game so that he feels comfortable. “

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Son has scored 35 goals in 104 international appearances but there must be concerns about how he can perform – and what the dangers are of playing with the mask, which he has worn in training since arriving in Qatar.

Uruguay coach Diego Alonso was asked by a South Korean reporter if he would try to take advantage of Son’s injury.

“The only advantage we will have here is our football,” replied Alonso. “We’ll try to be better than them and use our players – and not use the other team’s weight.”

Uruguay face changes on the pitch with Suarez and Cavani possibly in their last World Cup. Youth is epitomized by 24-year-old Valverde, who scores and adds assists.

Uruguayan players are also known for their commitment to the national team, which Alonso praised.

“With a lot of hope and a lot of desire,” Alonso said of his team. “The national team is the most important thing. This is what sets Uruguayans apart; they are always focused on the national team.”

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Both Suarez and Cavani have signed with new clubs to ensure they get regular playing minutes ahead of the World Cup. Cavani moved from Manchester United to Valencia while Suarez returned to his boyhood club Nacional after a successful spell at Atletico Madrid.

Suarez scored seven goals in the World Cup. That’s one short of Oscar Miguez’s national record in the 1950 World Cup winning team.

There are changes on the bench, too. Oscar Tabarez left and was replaced by Alonso, who has little experience at this level. Tabarez led Uruguay to three World Cups but left early this year after a string of poor results. It was Tabarez who took the team to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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Suarez is notorious for his many on-field biting incidents. During the 2018 World Cup match in Brazil, he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. The referee did not see the incident, but Suarez was later suspended from all football-related activities for four months, handed a nine-match international ban and given a hefty fine.

It was Suarez’s second World Cup moment that was controversial. In the final minute of extra time in the 2010 quarterfinal against Ghana, Suarez was sent off after using his hands to save Dominic Adiyiah’s header. Asamoah Gyan hit the bar from the ensuing penalty, and Suárez was shown celebrating on the sidelines.

Ghana went on to lose on penalties, thus failing to become Africa’s first semi-finalist as the continent hosted its first World Cup.

Brazil and Serbia have made up Group H, with many viewing Brazil as the favorites for the tournament.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup

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