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Bento: Objective remains the same for Korea Republic

Kuala Lumpur: Korea Republic will remain true to the style they have developed under Paulo Bento, the Portuguese head coach said after Wednesday’s Asian Qualifiers draw for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 at AFC House.

Drawn alongside Lebanon, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in a logistically-challenging Group H, Bento said that, while the approach may vary slightly for individual opponents, Korea Republic’s overarching philosophy will remain.

“Preparations, until now have, been good,” said the 50-year-old, who led Sporting and Olympiacos to silverware in European club football.

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“One of the goals we’ve had was to create a style for the team, and we’ve achieved that aim. Now, the aim is still the same: to try to improve our game model and choose the best strategy against each opponent, and of course, because football demands results, try to win the games we’re going to play.

“The team is in a good moment. We didn’t achieve the aim we would have liked to achieve in the Asian Cup. The only game we’ve lost ‘till now was in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.

“We’ve played against strong teams in our friendly games, and for most parts of the games, we played well and that’s what we want to keep doing.”

In a football sense, there is little to suggest Bento’s side should fear their Group H opponents.

Ranked 37th in the world, and boasting a number of the continent’s biggest stars including Tottenham Hotspur forward Song Heung-min, Lebanon (86th) are the only one of Korea Republic’s opponents to feature in the global top 100, and even they were beaten at home and away by the Koreans at this stage of Russia 2018 qualifying.

But while his side’s path forward may seem simple enough on paper, Bento knows the logistical challenges of away matches in four distinctly different regions will challenge his side.

“The draw is what it is,” he said. "After the draw was decided, we have to accept what the draw set and (we have) to try to find and fix the best possible solutions, in order for the players to play as well as possible. We will try to win the games we’re going to play and go to the next round.”

“We are going to analyse all the teams as we’ve had done so with the teams we’ve played ‘till now. Of course, this Qualifiers have different things, and the trips are going to be a little bit of a concern.

“But it is our job to find the best possible solutions in a sports way and find the best solutions for our logistics issues as well.”

Korea Republic’s campaign begins with a trip to Turkmenistan on September 10, before their bid for a tenth successive World Cup qualification continues at home to Sri Lanka on October 10.

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