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South Korea coach Bento – We are not afraid of Ghana

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Going up against a highly skilled Ghana team at the ongoing FIFA World Cup, South Korea head coach Paulo Bento said Sunday he wants his players to control the run of play.

“I think we just have to try to be ourselves and we have to lead our initiatives,” the Portugal-born coach said through an interpreter at the prematch press conference Sunday. The South Korea-Ghana showdown kicks off at 4 p.m. Monday at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha.

“We are aware of (Ghana’s) skills, but this will be a match where we’ll have capacity to be able to control the match,” Bento added. “We have to analyze what will happen throughout the match to see if they’ll play with four-man or five-man defense and what are spaces that we’ll be able to exploit.”

South Korea opened their World Cup with a goalless draw against Uruguay last Thursday, while Ghana took a 3-2 loss against Portugal the same evening. The pressure is on both sides to try to get their first win of the tournament and put themselves in a position to progress to the knockouts.

But Bento said he is not one to feel pressure ― “I never did, and I never will,” he said ― and he will embrace the challenges of coaching in the World Cup.

“I think the most important thing to do is to have the collective attitude toward the game,” Bento said. “It will depend on how we make an assessment of the Ghana team as a collective. Of course, we are aware that they have high-quality players. They will be able to use space we leave. The match will be very demanding, and we’ll have to be prepared at all levels for us to obtain a good result.”

For the second straight match, Bento will not have the services of winger Hwang Hee-chan, who is battling hamstring problems. Center back Kim Min-jae, South Korea’s best defender, is also a question mark after picking up a right calf muscle injury against Uruguay. Bento said the decision on Kim’s status will be made Monday morning.

Another injured player, captain Son Heung-min, played against Uruguay with a protective mask on his surgically repaired face. Bento said Son should be even better Monday after having had one full match wearing a mask under his belt.

“As a team, we need to do our best so he can take advantage of his skills,” Bento said. “We expect we will have a better performance, both from the individual skill standpoint and tactical standpoint.” (Yonhap)



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