Veteran South Korean forward ruled out of World Cup

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Seoul, May 22 (IANS) Gangwon FC forward Lee Keun-ho has been ruled out of next month’s FIFA World Cup with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said on Tuesday.

Lee sustained the injury during a K League 1 game against Gyeongnam FC last Saturday, reports Yonhap news agency.

Though Lee was stretchered off the field, his K League 1 club initially said the injury wasn’t serious and he’d be able to compete in the World Cup. But further tests revealed more severe damage, and Lee has joined a few others on the national team injury shelf.

It’s the latest injury blow to SOuth Korea’s head coach Shin Tae-yong, who was already without Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Kim Min-jae, who would have been a first-choice center back if not for a stress fracture in his right leg, and Suwon Samsung Bluewings midfielder Yeom Ki-hun, a crafty playmaker who went down with a broken rib. Kim and Yeom weren’t picked for the 28-man provisional roster announced on May 14.

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Over the past weekend, Dijon FCO midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon, who made Shin’s 28-man team, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his club’s season finale. He will miss the World Cup and will not be replaced.

Shin also said he will not replace Lee and will go ahead with 26 players.

“Lee Keun-ho had been preparing for this World Cup thinking it’d be his last,” Shin said.

“It’s quite disappointing. I was hoping he would be a great leader as the team’s oldest player (at 33).”

–IANS

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