Canberra: South Korea midfielder Lee Chung-Yong will miss the rest of the Asian Cup after being ruled out for at least three weeks with a leg fracture.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Tuesday that the Bolton Wanderers winger had suffered a hairline fracture in his right tibia following a crunching tackle during the 1-0 win over Oman in Canberra at the weekend.
Lee, 26, was substituted in the second half shortly after the challenge, which South Korea coach Uli Stielike argued should have resulted in a yellow card.
The KFA said Lee would return to South Korea on Wednesday, dealing a serious blow to his side`s quest for a first Asian Cup in 55 years.
"Lee suffered a fine crack in his right shin bone, requiring three weeks of treatment," a KFA spokesman told AFP in Seoul. "He will return home tomorrow for treatment through consultations with his club."
After South Korea`s 1-0 win over Kuwait Tuesday, Stielike said: "It`s a big loss because every time he is with the squad he is in the starting line-up. He`s a player with a lot of experience.
"I saw a lot of sad faces around him when we had to take this decision to send him home. But you have to go on. It`s the life of a professional footballer -- it can always happen."
Lee, nicknamed "Blue Dragon", has been a mainstay of the South Korean team in recent years, appearing at the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and last summer`s edition in Brazil.
South Korea, World Cup semi-finalists in 2002, won the first two editions of the Asian Cup but have failed to take the trophy home since 1960.