(Reuters) – South Korea skipper Son Heung-min picked up a knock in the World Cup qualifier against Syria, calling into question his availability for Tuesday’s crunch Group A clash against Asian powerhouse Iran.
The Tottenham Hotspur forward swept the ball into the net in the 88th minute to give South Korea a 2-1 home win over the Syrians on Thursday and keep his country two points behind Iran at the top of the group after three matches.
Son, who played the full match, was troubled by his lower right leg late in the contest but played down the injury.
“It’s not as bad as people may think. I feel fine overall,” Son was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
“No one is 100% healthy in these matches. And I love football so much. When you play for the country, you have to play through pain, even if it means you have to take medicine.”
South Korea are seeking to secure a 10th straight appearance at the World Cup finals in Qatar next year by securing one of the top two spots in Group A after the 10-match campaign.
Coach Paulo Bento played down the significance of Tuesday’s clash with the early pacesetters in Tehran.
“The game that we’re going to play on Tuesday isn’t more important than the games we’ve played,” the Portuguese said in the post-match news conference, according to Yonhap.
“It’s not a decisive game. It’s just one more game. It’ll be a tough game and a very good challenge for us. But I am sure it will be a tough game for them as well.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)