Masked Son will play in Korea's World Cup opener, says ex-skipper

Son Heung-min will defy a nasty facial injury to play in South Korea's opening match at the World Cup, a former international team-mate said on Friday.

South Korea's talisman and captain had surgery after suffering a fracture around his left eye while playing for Tottenham in the Champions League earlier this month.

The 30-year-old forward trained on Friday in a black face mask.

Son was seen readjusting the mask several times as he went through drills with the rest of the South Korea squad in Qatar.

South Korea play their opening match against Uruguay on November 24.

Former captain Koo Ja-cheol said: "Everybody knows about him, he always plays with passion, he's really a passionate guy, he never wants to stop.

"He joined (also) yesterday with the team training session, of course without heading, so I think he will push himself -- as far as I know him -- so I expect he will start.

"When someone has an injury like Sonny right now, even one of the biggest players can be scared, but it cannot stop him, as I know him."

Midfielder Koo, who captained his country at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, added: "Of course with a mask it's uncomfortable to play, it will not be 100 percent the same for him, but we need him to score for us to win."

Koo, 33, who is in Qatar for South Korean television, said: "He always says to people that it's an honour to play for the country,"

"He will make something special for Korea."

South Korea's other opponents in Group H are Portugal and Ghana.

pst/jw