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(LEAD) (World Cup) S. Korea coach Bento not returning after record-long tenure

송고시간2022-12-06 07:14

(ATTN: ADDS comments, photos, details throughout)
By Yoo Jee-ho

DOHA, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- Paulo Bento is not returning as head coach of the South Korean men's national football team.

Bento made the announcement in the early hours of Tuesday in Doha, moments after South Korea lost to Brazil 4-1 in the round of 16 at Stadium 974 in the Qatari capital.

"I have to think about the future. It will not be with the national team for South Korea," Bento, a Portugal native, said through an interpreter at his postmatch press conference. "I just told the players, the president of the Korea Football Association. This is a decision that I had already taken in September. It was set in stone."

Bento was the longest-serving head coach in South Korean national football history, having started his job in August 2018.

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento waits for the start of his team's round of 16 match against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento waits for the start of his team's round of 16 match against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea had 35 wins, 13 draws and nine losses under Bento.

South Korea had gone through coaching changes barely a year before the 2014 and the 2018 World Cups, while Bento was in charge for the entire four-year buildup for the 2022 tournament. And the rout by the hands of Brazil did little to diminish the sense of pride Bento felt for his team.

"Our participation makes me proud and satisfied. This was one of the best groups I've worked with," Bento said. "I think them for everything they've done. I am very proud to have been their manager."

Bento often faced criticism for not diversifying his tactics and for sticking with a small group of players without expanding his talent pool. But by taking the underdog team to the knockout phase here, Bento silenced his detractors.

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento (L) embraces midfielder Lee Kang-in following their 4-1 loss to Brazil in the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento (L) embraces midfielder Lee Kang-in following their 4-1 loss to Brazil in the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea held world No. 14 Uruguay to a goalless draw to begin their journey here. They lost to Ghana 3-2 but not before erasing a 2-0 deficit with two quick goals in the second half. South Korea then stunned Portugal 2-1 in the final group match to book a date with Brazil in the round of 16.

Though South Korea barely put up a fight against the Selecao, Bento said he was happy with the four-plus years of process, calling it "extraordinary."

"I would say that we were very bold in how we approached the games, even during the knockout phase," Bento said. "We were loyal to our game style."

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento gives a thumbs-up sign to his players during their round of 16 match against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea's head coach Paulo Bento gives a thumbs-up sign to his players during their round of 16 match against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha on Dec. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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