The 32-year-old striker, who has been used sparingly at international level since the 2010 World Cup, is set to play a key role in the Taeguk Warriors' vital clash with KuwaitSouth Korea coach Choi Kang-Hee insists two-time K-League MVP Lee Dong-Gook can lead the Taeguk Warriors to progress to the fourth round of World Cup qualifying when they take on Kuwait on Wednesday.
The Koreans must avoid defeat against Kuwait in Seoul on Wednesday to seal their passage and Choi said Jeonbuk striker Lee proved he could lead the line after his double in Saturday's 4-2 friendly win over Uzbekistan.
The 32-year-old, who won the 2011 K-League MVP award, had not played for Korea since the 2010 World Cup prior to an October call-up last year to face Poland and UAE before his brace against Uzbekistan.
"Lee did well in winter training sessions and was showing good moves on the national team, so I was expecting a lot from him,” Choi told reporters.
“He is the kind of player who gets influenced by his mentality, and I think he will perform better against Kuwait.”
Lee said he was ready to step up against Kuwait, given his coach is likely to start him in the crunch clash.
“Since Choi believes in me, I feel a sense of responsibility and need to move one step further,” Lee said.
“I will put my personal plans aside against Kuwait and will only play for the team.”
As for Korea's performance against Uzbekistan, Choi said he was relatively impressed, although conceding two late goals disappointed him.
“It was a tune-up for Kuwait, so not only the result, but how we played during the match is important,” Choi said.
“I told my players not to concede a goal and get more shots on target, but the performance turned disappointing in the second half. Some players also overplayed since this was my coaching debut.”