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(Asian Cup) Bento says S. Korea will not take Philippines lightly

All Headlines 23:40 January 06, 2019

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea football coach Paulo Bento said Sunday that his side will not overlook the Philippines when they go head-to-head in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup opening match.

South Korea will face the Philippines at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to open their Group C campaign at the Asian Cup. China and Kyrgyzstan are the other two teams in Group C.

"We are ready to play against the Philippines," Bento said at a press conference at Al-Maktoum Stadium. "We had some injured players, but now everyone is fine."

South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento speaks at a press conference at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 6, 2019, one day ahead of his team's AFC Asian Cup match against the Philippines. (Yonhap)

South Korea are ranked 53rd in the latest FIFA rankings, fourth highest among AFC members, while the Philippines are currently sitting at 116th in the world. The Taeguk Warriors, two-time continental champions, also have a perfect record against Philippines with seven wins, scoring 35 goals and conceding none.

Even though South Korea are considered the heavy favorites, Bento said his side will not put their guards down.

"You always need to respect your opponents," he said. "Our biggest mistake would be overlooking the opponents."

Football fans already saw Jordan pull off a 1-0 upset win over defending champions Australia in their Group B opening match at the Asian Cup. Bento said he is also aware of the result.

"We can take a good lesson from that result," he said. "I'm sure our players will stay focused in tomorrow's match."

The Philippines are led by renowned football coach Sven-Goran Eriksson who managed various clubs in Italy, Portugal, England and China, as well as the national teams of Mexico, Ivory Coast and England.

Bento said his side are prepared for every possible scenario in the match and will try to display their style of play.

"The Philippines alternately use back four or back five systems," he said. "We are aware that the Philippines move forward quickly from the wings when counterattacking. We may play a tough match, but I think we have a good chance of collecting a win."

Earlier Sunday, Bento decided to call up Hellas Verona attacker Lee Seung-woo to replace Gwangju FC forward Na Sang-ho, who sustained a right knee injury during training. Bento said he picked Lee because the 21-year-old appeared to have maintained good form with his Italian club in recent weeks.

"Lee can play on both flanks and can operate as a central attacking midfielder," he said. "He played for his club until end of last month and took a week-long rest, so he should be in good form."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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