Bento steps down as South Korea coach after World Cup exit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
South Korea's Portuguese coach Paulo Bento (centre left) greets midfielders Son Jun-ho (#13) and Son Heung-min (#07) after losing to Brazil 4-1 in their Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match against Brazil at Stadium 974 in Doha in the early hours of December 6. AFP

Paulo Bento announced he would not be staying on as coach of South Korea after they were eliminated from the World Cup with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil in the early hours of Tuesday.

"Now I need to think about the future, but I will not be with the Korea team. I am going to rest and then see," the 53-year-old former Portugal coach said after the loss in the last 16.

"I have just told the players and the president of the national federation.

"This is a decision which I took in September. It was set in stone and today I confirmed it. I have to thank them and am very proud to have been their manager."

Bento took over following the 2018 World Cup, succeeding Shin Tae-yong.

In Qatar, he led South Korea to the knockout round for the first time since 2010 with a last-gasp win over Portugal in their final group game.

However, they were outclassed by Brazil as they found themselves four goals down before half-time at Doha's Stadium 974, although they did pull one back late on through substitute Paik Seung-ho.

"I believe we can be very proud of what we have done at this World Cup, and what we have done over the last four years to get here," said Bento, who coached his home country at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

A Korean side captained by Son Heung-min got to Qatar by finishing second in their qualifying group behind Iran but their last-16 exit means they have still never won a World Cup knockout tie outside of their home country.

"I think we did really well in the group stage although I think we could have picked up more points as we should have beaten Ghana," Bento said.

"But I think we can be very proud and I am proud with what we have done over the last four years."

He added: "This has undoubtedly been one of the best groups of players I have had the opportunity to work with."