South Korea’s World Cup hopes suffered a major blow on Saturday as star midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon sustained an Achilles injury that is set to rule the 23 year-old out of the tournament.
With 14 minutes remaining in the final game of the French campaign, Kwon, Korea’s most in-form player with 11 goals for Dijon FCO this season, limped off the pitch against Angers.
The exact nature of the injury has yet to be determined but in a statement released by Dijon, the club said it is “probably a rupture of the Achilles tendon, even if it is necessary to wait for the results of the examination.
“One thing is certain, he will miss the World Cup in Russia.”
Korean media reports stated that the injury is serious and it is expected that the player, who joined Dijon in January 2017 and has made 16 appearances for the national team and scored four goals, will be out of action for some time.
South Korea kick off Group F against Sweden on June 18 before taking on Mexico and Germany.
Kwon was expected to arrive back in Korea on Sunday, a day before the start of the national team’s training camp.
It is the latest and most serious in a series of injury worries for coach Shin Tae-yong. Defender Kim Min-jae and midfielder Yeom Ki-hun were ruled out of the 28-man preliminary squad named on May 14.
Striker Lee Keun-ho was stretchered off the pitch in Gangwon FC’s clash with Gyeongnam FC and is awaiting a scan on his right knee while full-back Kim Jin-su is still recovering from injury.
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.