Japan beat Spain and advanced to the 2022 World Cup’s last 16, while its East Asian neighbour South Korea must win against already-qualified Portugal today to just hope to stay in Qatar.
The closing Group H round starts at 3.00pm in Education City Stadium near Doha.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos remained coy on a Thursday news conference: “I think it is 50-50 if he (Ronaldo) plays or not.” Cristiano Ronaldo missed training and rested on Wednesday.
South Korea must win and hope that Uruguay and Ghana finishes in a draw, or a Uruguay win and their goal difference is better.
A win for Ghana would guarantee the elimination of the Asian Red Devils, a term coined by the international media in 1983 when their youth team reached the semi-final of the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Portugal, having extended their longest successive score run in World Cup to eight games, requires only a point to guarantee top spot.
The Santos-led side has a mounting injury issue as Nuno Mendes, Danilo Pereira and Otavio all sidelined or ruled out of the tournament.
The only previous meeting between South Korea and Portugal was at the 2002 World Cup. The co-hosts won 1-0.
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim, Kwon, Kim Young-Gwon, Kim, Jung Woo-Young, Hwang, Lee, Lee Jae-Sung, Son Heung-Min, Cho.
Portgual: Digo Costa, Dalot, Pepe, António Silva, Cancelo, Nunes, Neves, Vitinha, João Mário, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Horta.