February 6, 2023, 12:23 pm


WC-22 Correspondent

Published:
2022-12-05 21:20:28 BdST

Neymar returns ahead of South Korea match


World Cup favourites Brazil are racing to overcome injuries to key players as they prepare for their last-16 match against South Korea tonight, after a heavily changed side lost 1-0 to Cameroon on Friday night, reports Reuters.

Brazil coach Tite informed that their forward Neymar is set to play for the five-time champions in their World Cup last-16 match against South Korea.

Neymar suffered the injury in Brazil's opening 2-0 win over Serbia, which ruled him out of their 1-0 win over Switzerland and the shock defeat by Cameroon, one of a series of injury problems within the squad.

Full back Danilo was also cleared by the medical staff for the game against South Korea.

"Neymar will train today in the afternoon and if he trains well he will play," Tite told a news conference on Sunday.

The news of his return to the starting lineup came after Thiago Silva was asked during a news conference if Neymar would play and Tite took hold of the microphone and said "yes".

It will be warmly welcomed in a squad beset by fitness woes with Danilo also hurting his ankle against Serbia and Alex Sandro suffering a hip injury against the Swiss. Alex Telles and forward Gabriel Jesus, who sustained a knee injury against Cameroon, were ruled out for the rest of the tournament on Saturday.

Tite said Danilo was also fit to return against South Korea on Monday but Sandro was out.

"He still can't play. Still recovering. Danilo and Neymar are back," he said.

Tite stressed that Neymar's return was with the full backing of the team's medical staff and the player's physical health was the priority. With Neymar back, Tite said there will be no changes in the forward line from the team that started against Serbia, with Lucas Paqueta behind Neymar, Vinicius Jr., Raphinha and Richarlison.

On paper Brazil could surely not have asked for a kinder draw at this stage than South Korea, who qualified for the last 16 thanks to a last-gasp winner by Hwang Hee-chan against Portugal.

If they win at Doha's Stadium 974 they will advance to a quarter-final against Japan or Croatia, with a last-four showdown against great rivals Argentina still on the cards.

South Korea will rely on talisman Son Heung-min to lead them against the odds-on favourites on Monday, after he ran himself into the ground on Friday to ensure his team reached the last 16 with a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win over Portugal on Friday.

The Koreans are the only Asian side to have reached the semi-finals before, when they were co-hosts with Japan in 2002, and they will be hoping to shock Brazil on Monday to make history again.

Korea were the second lowest-ranked side to make the knockout stage and Paulo Bento's side have recent experience of how chastening an experience it can be to take on Brazil.

The teams met in a friendly in Seoul in June and Brazil romped to a 5-1 victory with Neymar scoring two penalties.

Brazil are desperate to rediscover the form in front of goal that saw them score a remarkable 26 times in their seven games preceding the tournament, but aside from Neymar they have injury concerns in defence.

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