Eriksson: Philippines proved a point
Dubai: Philippines head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson expressed his pride at his side’s performance against Korea Republic in their first-ever appearance at the AFC Asian Cup Finals on Monday.
In a match that was dominated by Korea Republic, the Azkals displayed impressive character to keep their opponents at bay before Hwang Ui-jo’s 67th minute strike eventually sealed the East Asians the win in the Group C tie.
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“They played well, they won and we cannot complain too much about that, but anyhow, I am proud of the team we had out there,” said the 70-year-old Swedish coach.
“I think we stood up to them. They had the ball much more than we had, but we created some chances, and with a little bit of luck we could have had a different result for sure.
“I think we showed the people here in the stadium, in front of the television that this country (Philippines) can play football, because I think we did a lot of good things.”
The defeat, coupled with China PR’s 2-1 win against fellow tournament debutants Kyrgyz Republic in the day’s earlier match, places the Philippines last in the standings but Eriksson remains hopeful of their chances and believes they will improve in their next match against the Chinese.
“I think we played one of the best (teams) in this tournament tonight, and we created chances against them, so that gives up hope for the next two games in this group that we can do something even better,” Eriksson said.
“Even after we lost, the confidence went up. I spoke briefly with the players in the dressing room, and the mood is good (even though) we lost the game, and they know they did a good job."
“I want to see that we dominate and keep the ball better against China. We created some good chances (against Korea Republic), and I’m sure we can do that against China as well, but we must keep the ball a little more than today. Good for the heart of the coach too.”
Meanwhile, Korea Republic head coach Paulo Bento and his charges are set to meet Kyrgyz Republic on Matchday Two, where a win would surely secure their place in the Round of 16 but the former Portugal boss wants to further improve his team’s style of play.
“What is the most important is that we prepare our strategy, and have in mind the way we are going to play. We are not going to change our way of playing, because what we need to do is improve our way of playing in order to play better,” Bento declared.
The hard-fought win saw three Koreans cautioned - Lee Yong, Kim Jin-su and Jung Woo-young - but Bento wasn’t overly concerned.
“Now it’s not (the time) to think about the yellow cards, but think about the next opponent.
“Focus on the next game, try to achieve three more points, and achieve our aim here in the group stage.”
Korea Republic play Kyrgyz Republic at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Friday.
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