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S. Korea football coach aims to use friendlies as chance to find, fix problems

South Korea’s national football team head coach Paulo Bento said Monday he wants to find and fix problems that become apparent in friendly matches before his team competes in a continental competition next year.

Bento’s side assembled at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul, to prepare for upcoming friendly matches.

South Korea will take on Uruguay in Seoul on Friday and face Panama in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, four days later.

South Korea had a 2-0 win against Costa Rica and played to a scoreless draw against Chile last month. Before competing at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in January, Bento said his goal is to identify problems and improve the team’s shortcomings.

Paulo Bento(Yonhap)
Paulo Bento(Yonhap)

“Every team has things they’re good at, and things they don’t do well,” Bento said at a press meeting at the NFC before training.

“My goal is to spot our shortcomings and find ways to make improvements.”

Bento, who took over the national team helm in August, said that he is focusing on developing South Korea’s offensive skills.

“It takes more time to make improvements in offense, instead of defense,” Bento said of the South Korean team. “We’ve seen goodthings in defense and I believe we can also do well in our buildup process. Since our defenders are playing with passion, I think we have less things to fix in our defense compared to offense.”

The friendlies against Uruguay and Panama will be South Korea’s last matches at home this year. The Taeguk Warriors will travel to Australia next month to face the Socceroos and Uzbekistan.

For November friendlies and the first two group stage matches at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Korea will play without their attacking ace Son Heung-min. The Korea Football Association and Son’s club, Tottenham Hotspur, made an agreement in a trade-off for the player’s Asian Games appearance this summer.

Bento said he is fully aware of the situation, and will find ways to play without Son.

“With good players, we want to make the game that we wanted to play, and fix our problems,” he said. “But it’s impossible to make a perfect team in just two matches. We need more time.”

Bento said South Korean players are intense in training and have good understandings of tactics. Against world No. 5 Uruguay, the coach said he wants to collect both results and put forth a good performance.

“Uruguay are a strong team, but it’s important for us to get a win,” he said. “We want to display our style of play and our color.” (Yonhap)


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