South Korea told to take nothing for granted against surprise package Qatar in Asian Cup clash
LONDON: Paulo Bento has warned his South Korea team to expect one hell of tough test against Qatar in their quarterfinal clash in Abu Dhabi today.
Bento’s boys went into the tournament as the favorite to lift the trophy in just over a week’s time. But some underwhelming performances in the UAE so far, culminating in the injury-time victory over Bahrain in the second round, has left South Korea’s fans and coach looking for the side to hit top gear, and soon.
They face the Qataris who have impressed so far. They have won all their matches and look like the team to beat, leaving Bento to tell his stars that they have to be at their best to make the last-four.
“It will be a very difficult game. They are very good offensively and defensively. This is a team that has worked together for a long time with a coach (Felix Sanchez) who knows the players very well,” the South Korea coach said.
“They have players who are very good technically, their strikers and wingers are also very fast. It will not just be about Almoez Ali (leading scorer with seven goals) as Qatar are a very strong unit as a team.”
Bento said Korea Republic need to assert their style if they want to contain Qatar.
“We must play as we like to play. We must control the ball, dominate in the offensive part of our midfield. There must be good reaction when we lose the ball and we must also control the space behind our defensive line.”
If South Korea are to avoid defeat then they may well need Son Heung-min to show why he is one of the best players in the world. Since turning up in the UAE the Tottenham star has failed to show he is one of the best players in his own team. Goalless and looking tired, Son has not shone in the Asian Cup so far, but that is not something that bothers his boss.
“I am not concerned that Son hasn’t scored, it isn’t mandatory that he scores for the national team,” said Bento.
“For us, what is most important is that we score in every game in this competition. I think we should have scored more goals as we created a lot of situations in almost all the games we played.
“It is not important who scores, what is most important is that we create opportunities and score.”