S. Korea coach rues ‘unforced’ mistakes, buoyed by pushback in loss to Brazil

SEOUL– South Korea head coach Paulo Bento lamented his team’s “unforced” mistakes against Brazil, resulting in a 5-1 defeat in their friendly football match Thursday, a result that he believes shouldn’t have been that lopsided.

Neymar scored two penalties, with Richarlison, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus chipping in a goal apiece. Hwang Ui-jo had the only South Korean goal at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

The two penalties awarded to Brazil were both the results of some scrambling plays in the box, with defenders Lee Yong and then Kim Young-gwon committing fouls on left back Alex Sandro after being a step or two late to the developing scoring chance.

Jesus then toyed with the stationary South Korean defense, which gave the Manchester City forward more than enough space to score during injury time.

For the first goal, scored by Richarlison, Sandro penetrated the South Korean box untouched to set it up, when defenders were momentarily frozen in their spots.

Bento said at least three of Brazil’s goals “had nothing to do with offensive organization.”

“We made a lot of mistakes, some of them unforced. No one loses games 5-1 without making mistakes,” Bento said at his postmatch press conference. “It’s important (that) we analyze the game. And after that, totally forget about this game and try to prepare for the next one (against Chile on Monday).”

Bento conceded defeat by saying, “We played against a strong team that is much better than us, which is managed by a coach (Tite) that is much better than me.”

“To play against this kind of team, we need to be more effective in the defensive process,” Bento said. “We need to be more aggressive. The level of aggressive was not enough.”

On Bento’s watch, South Korea have been relying heavily on their buildup plays, with defenders or even goalkeepers starting the process from their own zone. Against Brazil’s high pressing, especially with a skilled forward, such as Neymar, creating the first line of defense up front, South Korea looked overwhelmed at times.

The buildup strategy often worked against much more inferior teams during South Korea’s World Cup qualifiers. But against a foe like Brazil, or against South Korea’s World Cup group stage opponents, Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana, the strategy may not be so effective.

Still, Bento maintained, as he has all along, that he won’t change the team’s style of play, citing the lack of time between now and the World Cup in November to make meaningful progress.

“In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to change our style,” he said. “It’s much worse, in my opinion, for us to play in a different way, in a way that we’re not used to, because if we don’t have time to correct certain things, it’s almost impossible to make too much of a difference.”

Asked if he took anything positive from the loss, Bento responded, “The personality of the team.”

“We made mistakes, and we continued to try to play the best way we play,” he said. “We had some good moments, especially in the attack. The personality of our team was good. This is a good point to restart the preparation for the next game in four days.”

The Brazil match was the first of four friendlies scheduled for South Korea in June. They will travel to Daejeon, some 160 kilometers south of Seoul, to take on Chile on Monday and move back up to Suwon, just south of the capital city, to host Paraguay on June 10. Then it will be against Egypt, back in Seoul, on June 14.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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