MX23RW : Friday, July 23 16:53:01| >> :600:3613792:3613792:
Jun 13, 2021 at 7am UK
South KoreaSouth Korea
Song (50'), Heung-min (65' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-1)
Saad (12')

Preview: South Korea vs. Lebanon - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's World Cup Qualifying - Asia clash between South Korea and Lebanon, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The top two in Group H clash on Sunday, as South Korea host closest rivals Lebanon at the second stage of the qualification process for Qatar 2022.

While the home side currently sit three points clear at the summit of the section, they could still be caught by the unassuming Cedars should they fall to a shock defeat in Goyang.

Match preview

South Korea's Heung-Min Son shoots at goal on June 5, 2021© Reuters

Having picked up seven points from their opening three matches - each played at the end of 2019 - group favourites South Korea returned to qualifying action with a comfortable win over Turkmenistan last Saturday, before brushing aside Sri Lanka in midweek by the same 5-0 scoreline.

With Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min watching on from the sidelines, Shanghai Shenhua's Kim Shin-wook stepped up to bag a brace in the southern city of Goyang. A moment's silence preceded the game and the Korean team wore black armbands, in tribute to 2002 World Cup hero Yoo Sang-chul, who recently passed away aged just 49.

Given that Sri Lanka sit only six spots off the bottom of the world rankings and went down to 10 men just before the hour mark, head coach Paulo Bento was able to blood some younger players in the second half, saving Son's legs for this weekend's game.

As one of Asia's traditional giants - who plan to make a big impact in the continent's second-ever hosting of the World Cup next year - their serene progress to date comes as no surprise. In fact, South Korea are yet to concede a goal in the current campaign, while netting a total of 20 at the other end.

The only minor stain on the Tigers' record so far was a goalless draw with Sunday's lowly-ranked opponents Lebanon, back in November 2019.

Shortly before it became the norm to stage games without fans present, that reverse fixture was played behind closed doors in Beirut, due to security concerns arising from nationwide protests. As such, the match was played in a virtually empty Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in the Lebanese capital, with the visitors unable to find a way through the home side's resilient defence.

Nonetheless, results since mean that Bento's talented side remain in pole position to reach the third round of qualifying - and ultimately a 10th consecutive global finals.

They moved three points ahead of Sunday's opponents, though, thanks only to Lebanon's late collapse against Turkmenistan on Wednesday.

The Cedars were 2-1 up with just five minutes left, but imploded when Nour Mansour was sent off in the 86th minute, with the Turkmen equalising shortly before his dismissal and Altymyrat Annadurdyyew then grabbing a winner in the first minute of stoppage time.

Drawn together with the South Koreans for the third consecutive set of qualifiers, Lebanon greatly benefited from the withdrawal of North Korea from the group in May. As the North's previous results were voided, former captain and current coach Jamal Taha's side suddenly found themselves elevated to within touching distance of making the next stage.

However, in their final fixture of the current phase, they must try to repeat their famous draw of 2019 to safely secure passage as one of the best runners-up in the process.

South Korea World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

South Korea form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Lebanon World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Lebanon form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

South Korea manager Paulo Bento pictured in 2019© Reuters

Portuguese coach Paulo Bento could bring South Korea's star man Heung Min-son back into his starting XI on Sunday, as he looks to secure top spot in Group H with a third convincing win in the space of a week.

Having already featured 90 times for his nation, netting 27 times, Son is set to be joined in attack by Hwang Hee-chan, who endured a goalless Bundesliga campaign with RB Leipzig last season.

Much admired centre-back Kim Min-jae is also likely to come into the team, having featured as a substitute last time out.

Lebanon coach Jamal Taha, meanwhile, enters what may well be a do-or-die clash knowing that an against-the-odds victory, or even a draw, could prove vital in finishing as one of the five best-placed runners-up in this second section of the Asian Qualifiers.

Captain Nour Mansour, however, will be ruled out of that quest, as his red card versus Turkmenistan not only led to a dramatic late loss in midweek but also means that he must now serve a suspension.

Part-time air conditioning repairman Maher Sabra - based in Lebanon, with Nejmeh - is therefore poised to come into the side at centre-back.

South Korea possible starting lineup:
Jo Hyeon-woo; Kim Tae-hwan, Kim Min-jae, Lee Yong, Lee Ki-je; Nam Tee-hee, Jung Woo-young, Kwon Chang-hoon; Son Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, Hwang Hee-chan

Lebanon possible starting lineup:
Khalil; El Zein, Oumari, Sabra, A. Melki; Haidar, Matar, F. Melki; Saad, Ataya, El-Helwe

SM words green background

We say: South Korea 3-0 Lebanon

Expect a superior South Korea to sweep through to the final stages, keeping their record of not conceding a goal - even in the now expunged draw with their rivals from the north - firmly intact on Sunday.

Their winning combination of speed and ingenuity in the final third is likely to prove too much for Lebanon to cope with; particularly on the back of a shocking meltdown last time out, that may rattle the visitors ahead of their toughest qualifying task to date.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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South Korea manager Shin Tae-yong on May 28, 2018
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