FINGERS will be seriously crossed for South Korea in their final Group ‘H’ match against Portugal, where a victory is crucial to make it to the quarterfinals.

On paper, Portugal is already assured of their last-16 place – but their opponents South Korea still have work to do after their upset 3-2 defeat to Ghana.

Portugal requires just one point from Friday’s game with South Korea to assure themselves of the top spot and a tie with the runners-up from Group G.

South Korea, with Tottenham striker Son Heung-min at the helm, remains still very bitter and to stand any chance of leap-frogging the African side, they must secure the three points, which may be a tall order. 


If Ghana and Uruguay draw, in a match happening simultaneously on Friday, South Korea will need to beat Portugal by two clear goals to advance.

In my opinion, the Koreans are simply a younger and faster team, and we don’t believe that the Portuguese have what it takes to control them over 90 minutes. 


Coach Paulo Bento, red-carded for his aggressive protests to the referee, will now be suspended for the showdown against his native Portugal.

“It will be a loss but it will make us better, united… we will show all our qualities,” his assistant Sergio Costa said.  

“We have a feeling of a lack of justice but I think we also have to be very proud of what we did. We gave our souls on the pitch.”

Now for the do-or-die clash, where they cannot afford to make a mistake to be the first Asian team here to make it to the knockout stages.

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* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.

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