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Despite regional title, men's football coach says S. Korea need to improve

South Korea men's football coach Shin Tae-yong said Saturday his team still needs to improve for the 2018 FIFA World Cup even after claiming a regional title in Tokyo.

South Korea became the first men's team to successfully defend a title at the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship, formerly known as the East Asian Cup, after beating Japan 4-1 on Saturday.

South Korea men's football coach Shin Tae-yong (Yonhap)
South Korea men's football coach Shin Tae-yong (Yonhap)

The latest result at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo helped South Korea to finish atop the four-nation tournament with two wins and one draw, while forcing Japan to finish second with two wins and one loss.

"I think this tournament was a tune-up for the FIFA World Cup,"

Shin said. "Although we earned the result, I think there are still many things that we need to improve on. I hope we can produce good results, together with Japan, at the World Cup after fixing some problems."

South Korea's win against Japan on Saturday was their first since 2010. Shin's side surrendered a goal just two minutes after the kickoff, but poured in four straight goals later to stun the tournament hosts.

"We were under some pressure of collecting a victory today," he said. "I want to congratulate our players for regrouping well and playing a good game after we conceded a goal."

South Korea now have 41 wins, 23 draws and 14 losses against Japan. Shin said his analysis on Japan has paid off.

"I watched Japan's last two matches and prepared how we should play depending on the opponents' situations," he said. "Japan were not with their best players and we also focused on improving our shortcomings by using our Plans B or C."

Shin said his under-23 coaching experience against Japan was a big help. The 48-year-old saw his team blow a two-goal lead over Japan at the 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in Qatar, where they eventually suffered a 3-2 loss and finished runners-up behind Japan.

"That loss was a big dent in my coaching career," he said. "I felt huge pressure for today's match, but that experience turned out to be a big help. I thought about how we should play in the winning situations and we were able to manage the game carefully." (Yonhap)