Lee laments Korea Republic exit
Abu Dhabi: Korea Republic's Lee Chung-yong was left to reflect on what might have been after his side were defeated 1-0 by Qatar, confirming their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 elimination at the quarter-final stage.
Abdelaziz Hatim's superb 78th-minute strike ultimately sealed Paulo Bento's side's exit from the competition, after a team with an attacking armory which included Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min failed to find a way through the Qatari defence.
Appearing at his third AFC Asian Cup, following participation in the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the experienced Lee told the-AFC.com he felt personally accountable.
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"I am really sorry for the result," said the Germany-based 30-year old. "I expected a lot from this tournament and thought we would be in a higher position than we now are.
"I feel responsible for it. As a veteran player, I feel very responsible for not leading the team well, but I hope that the Korean football team will be stronger through these matches."
Korea Republic's quarter-final elimination marks their earliest AFC Asian Cup exit since 2004, and extends their now 59-year continental title drought for at least another four years.
While the Taegeuk Warriors passed through the group stage with wins over Philippines, Kyrgyz Republic and China PR, life became more difficult in the knockout stage, with their defeat to Qatar preceded by a Round of 16 struggle against Bahrain - eventually won 2-1 in extra-time.
Injuries, including the tournament-ending hamstring strain suffered by Ki Sung-yueng, clearly took a toll, but Lee said he thought his side should still have reached greater heights in the UAE.
"Our coach struggled to manage the team because there were several players injured," said the former Crystal Palace man.
"But we still believed that we could have got a better result than this since we have many good players.
"I'm sorry about the result of today's game. We prepared a lot, but I think it just wasn't enough."
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