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S. Korea coach happy with 'team spirit' after 4 friendlies in World Cup buildup

All News 23:07 June 14, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- As South Korea closed out a series of four friendly matches in their World Cup preparation with a victory Tuesday, head coach Paulo Bento said he was most pleased with the way his players stuck to their guns from start to finish.

South Korea pounded on Egypt 4-1 at Seoul World Cup Stadium, with four different players chipping in a goal apiece. It was South Korea's second biggest offensive output of 2022, matching the goal total from a 4-0 win over Moldova in January.

South Korea head coach Paulo Bento (R) and his captain Son Heung-min (L) celebrate their 4-1 victory over Egypt in the countries' friendly football match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea also survived some wobbly opening moments, and their goal explosion made a first-half defensive gaffe a distant memory.

"I think we should be happy because of the result and also due to the performance and the attitude of the players," Bento said at his postmatch press conference. "Defensively, we conceded few chances to the opponent. The game, except the first 8-10 minutes, was dominated by our team. We controlled the game with good ball possession."

South Korea fell to Brazil 5-1 on June 2, and it was followed by a 2-0 win over Chile and a 2-2 draw with Paraguay. The beatdown of an Egypt team without their best player, injured Mohamed Salah, provided a neat ending, and when asked what he was particularly happy with after the four games, Bento responded, "The team spirit."

"It's difficult to pick one thing," he said. "It's normal to have mistakes in every game. I think we should keep with good things. I think that's most important."

Egypt's lone goal came on 38 minutes, when Mostafa Mohamed scored with South Korean defenders looking at the referee for what they believed should have been a handball violation from moments earlier.

And as he had done after previous matches, Bento came to the defense of his backline, saying mistakes are simply a part of football.

South Korean players salute their fans after beating Egypt 4-1 in the countries' friendly football match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

"We're going to make mistakes in the future. We should try to improve (on) that," the coach said. "There were many, many things we did well. The most important for me was the way we reacted in the second game (against Chile) after we lost the first one (to Brazil), and the way we reacted after we were losing 2-0 (to Paraguay) in the second half and kept playing in our style. This is the best thing of this training camp."

Another important takeaway for Bento was that he got to see some new faces in the lineup, due to absences of some national team mainstays.

Son Heung-min of South Korea (R) tries to get past Mahmoud Hamdy of Egypt during the countries' friendly football match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

Center backs Kim Min-jae and Park Ji-su, and midfielder Lee Jae-sung were left off because of injuries. Midfielders Hwang In-beom and Jung Woo-young missed later matches due to injuries sustained in earlier contests. Winger Hwang Hee-chan went off to his mandatory military training after two matches.

"This was an opportunity for other players (who) were not used to playing in this kind of game," Bento said. "It was a good experience for them. For some of them, it was their first time playing with us. (Some others) had played few games with us in this kind of context."

South Korea head coach Paulo Bento watches his team in action against Egypt during a friendly football match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 14, 2022. (Yonhap)


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