South Korea face Ghana on Monday lunchtime in a meeting between the two outsiders of Group H.
While Uruguay and Portugal received top billing ahead of the tournament, South Korea and Ghana showed they are hardly helpless onlookers in the scramble for knockout football.
Paulo Bento's Taeguk Warriors held Uruguay to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday afternoon, limiting the fancied South Americans to just one shot on target. Ghana, later that day, came within one misplaced step of snatching a point against Portugal. But Inaki Williams lost his footing with the goal at his mercy in the final seconds of a 3-2 defeat.
Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming meeting between this duo.
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The chief fitness concern for Bento coming into South Korea's tenth consecutive World Cup revolved around Son Heung-min and his battered face.
To the relief of 51 million, the nation's skipper played the full 90 minutes while wearing a protective mask without much fuss – if anything, he struggled more with a captain's armband which kept slipping down to his wrist.
Centre-back Kim Min-jae damaged his calf in the second half of South Korea's stalemate. The Napoli defender finished the match and revealed: “It’s the first time I’ve injured a muscle, but I don’t think it’s serious.”
South Korea Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Kim S G; Kim M, Kim M J, Kim Y G, Kim J S; Hwang I B, Jung; Na, Lee J S, Son H M; Hwang U J.
Bench: Song, Cho H W, Yoon, Paik, Cho G, Hwang H C, Son J H, Hong, Lee K, Kwon K W, Kwan C H, Kim T H, Cho Y.
There are a lot of new faces in Ghana's squad. 11 of the players Otto Addo called up came into the tournament with less than five caps to their name. The only part-time manager at the World Cup opted for a more experienced starting XI for their opener but is expected to have a fully fit squad at his disposal if he has the urge to tinker.
Ghana Starting 11 (5-3-2): Ati-Zigi; Seidu, Amartey, Djiku, Salisu, Rahman; Partey, Kudus, Samed; A Ayew, Williams.
Bench: Ibrahim, Nurudeen, Lamptey, Odoi, Owusu, Issahaku, Kyereh, J Ayew, Bukari, Barnieh, Mensah, Aidoo, Sulemana, Semenyo, Sowah.
Playing against higher-ranked nations in their opening fixtures, both South Korea and Ghana sought to first contain rather than create.
However, now that they enter a contest each would surely have billed as their most winnable fixture of the group stage, the pair may deploy a more expansive approach. Addo admitted as much ahead of the tournament: "If we lose [the first game], we need to be more attacking in the second match."
South Korea have the more cohesive setup and arguably a higher calibre of player compared to the lowest-ranked nation in the competition, but Ghana could cause them problems with a front-foot approach.
Prediction: South Korea 2-1 Ghana
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