South Korea are sweating on the fitness of inspirational captain Hong Myung-Bo who is struggling to be fit for their opening World Cup match against Poland On Tuesday.
Defender Myung-Bo, 33, picked up a foot injury in a friendly against France last Sunday and his absence would be a huge loss to a side targeting reaching the second stage for the first time ever.
Myung-Bo is also aiming to be the first Asian player to appear at four World Cup finals.
"He has begun light exercises but the injury stops him from taking full part in training," said a spokesman.
South Korean coach Guus Hiddink would only say "any player can be replaced if he is
not 100% fit," on the matter.
Yoo Sang-Chul is likely to be Hong's replacement at the centre of defence.
Hiddink's injury concerns also extend to striker Choi Yong-Soo.
He has been troubled by muscle trouble in his right side for several months and Hiddink will reportedly not risk the player.
On the goalkeeping front, Hiddink seems to have decided on Kim Byung-ji ahead of Lee Woon-jae.
Despite Hiddink being the coach of Holland when they beat South Korea 5-0 with Kim in goal, he has confidence in his choice.
"Our goalies can compete with them in quality, yes at the same level. We need someone who is good in the air," said Hiddink.
Lee played in the 1994 World Cup when he came on as a substitute while his team were 3-0 down to Germany and he helped them to a 3-2 loss.
But Kim has more international experience which seems to have worked in his favour.
"I think the tension is good for me, for developing myself," said the bleach-haired Kim.