Why is Son Heung-min wearing a mask for South Korea at World Cup?

Son Heung-min is wearing a mask at the Qatar World Cup as South Korea look to progress from Group H.

The Tottenham striker won a fitness battle to feature at the tournament despite suffering a fracture around his left eye during a Champions League match against Marseille.

The 30-year-old was forced off injured in the first-half of the 2-1 win over OM on 1 November and subsequently required surgery.

The incident occurred following a shoulder to the face from Chancel Mbemba.

But after three weeks, Son was cleared to join up with the Tigers of Asia.

Son joined up with his teammates last Saturday and will sport a black protective mask, with manager Paulo Bento imposing a team gag order on discussing his star player’s health for the opener against Uruguay.

“We should check and analyse day by day, let him come,” Bento said. “We have time to make the right decisions and the best decisions for all of us.”

Son was determined to feature at the World Cup for his country, adding in the build-up to Qatar 2022: “I won’t miss this for the world. I can’t wait to represent our beautiful country.

“I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you all for the messages of support I have received over the last week. I have read so many of them and truly, truly appreciate you all. In a tough time I received a lot of strength from you!

Son Heung-min during South Korea training (AFP via Getty Images)
Son Heung-min during South Korea training (AFP via Getty Images)

“Playing for your country at the World Cup is the dream of so many children growing up, just as it was one of mine too.”

Should Son require a few games to regain his sharpness, then the Taegeuk Warriors may lean on the likes of Hwang Hee-Chan, Hwang Ui-Jo and Lee Jae-Sung to deliver in the final third.

But South Korea will hope Son can make the difference as they compete with Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana in Group H.