By Do-gyun Kim
GOYANG, South Korea (Reuters) – New South Korea coach Paulo Bento has stressed that it will take time for the team to implement his specific plans but hopes to eventually see them contend for tournament honours as the domestic game develops under his stewardship.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) named Bento as coach last week, the former Portugal midfielder signing a four-year contract to take the side through next year’s Asian Cup and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 49-year-old, who had a four-year stint in charge of his native Portugal from 2010, said part of his role was to oversee the emergence of the next generation of Korean players.
“It will be a long-term project, but I believe it’s a great opportunity to develop South Korean football, not just for the Asian Cup and World Cup qualification,” he told reporters in Goyang on the outskirts of Seoul on Thursday.
“I think we should provide opportunities for young players because there are so many talented players that can be the mainstay in the future.”
Bento replaced Shin Tae-yong, who took over towards the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign and whose contract expired last month.
Shin had taken over from Uli Stielike after the German was fired amid a run of poor results that left Korea’s chances of qualifying for Russia hanging by a thread.
However, Shin endured a stuttering campaign in Russia, where the Koreans were eliminated after losses to Sweden and Mexico before they produced a stunning 2-0 win over defending champions Germany in the final group game.
Bento will be in charge for next month’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Chile, and said he intended to give Newcastle United midfielder Ki Sung-yueng a pivotal role.
“Ki Sung-yueng will be called up for the national team this time,” he said. “His role in the team is important not only as team captain but also as a player.”
Bento added that he wanted to introduce a more aggressive style of play to the national team.
“And overall I want the team to play with intensity, to be constantly running and to play to our strengths.”
(Additional reporting by Minwoo Park; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O’Brien)