Kuwait and South Korea meet in a crunch FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier on Thursday, with one nation sure to lose their perfect start to qualification.
Both teams have taken a maximum of 12 points from their first three games in the second stage of AFC qualifying, with the beaten Asian Cup finalists only ahead due to their superior goal difference.
As a result, the importance of the fixture in Kuwait City is not lost on South Korea boss Uli Stielike.
“We will be fighting with the first place in the group at stake,” Stielike told reporters.
“You could even say this match is worth six points. That’s how important this is.”
Augsburg forward Ji Dong-won returns to the squad after six months in the wilderness under the current boss.
He will vie with Vitoria Setubal attacker Suk Hyun-jun, who opened his international account in the 8-0 victory over Laos and has scored five in his last seven outings domestically.
They will need to make up for the absences of Son Heung-min (foot) and Lee Chung-yong (ankle), with Stielike not feeling the need to replace the injured players.
“Given that we will start with 11 players and can use three substitutions, only 14 players will be seen in action,” he added.
“Even with 21 players, there will still be a handful who won’t get to play, so I felt 21 [players] would be enough for this match.”
South Korea have won five of their last six meetings with Kuwait, the latest of which was a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the group stage of the 2015 Asian Cup.
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