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Bento: Friendlies an opportunity to strengthen squad

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Korea Republic training

Paju: Korea Republic's national football team head coach Paulo Bento is on a mission to find and fix problems ahead of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Bento's side assembled at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul, on Monday to prepare for friendlies against on Uruguay in Seoul on Friday and Panama in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, four days later.

Korea Republic had a 2-0 win against Costa Rica and played to a goalless draw against Chile last month. Before competing at the AFC Asian Cup UAE in January, Bento said his goal is to identify problems and improve the team's shortcomings.

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"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 he is focusing on developing Korea Republic's offensive skills.

"It takes more time to make improvements in offence, instead of defence," Bento said of the Korean team. "We've seen good things in defence and I believe we can also do well in our build-up process. Since our defenders are playing with passion, I think we have less things to fix in our defence compared to offence."

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

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

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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 want 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 Korea Republic's players have a good understanding of tactics. Against World No. 5 Uruguay, the coach said he wants to collect both results and 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 colour."

Korea Republic who won the AFC Asian Cup in 1956 and 1960, are in Group C alongside China PR, Philippines and Kyrgyz Republic.

Sources: Yonhap News Agency, AFP, Korea Football Federation

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