Paulo Bento’s S. Korea to make debut in friendly vs. Costa Rica

September 5, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) — South Korea will take their first step with new head coach Paulo Bento when they take on Costa Rica in a friendly football match at home this week.

South Korea will host Costa Rica at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Friday. It will be the first match for Bento, who was appointed as head coach for the men’s national team on Aug. 17. It’s also South Korea’s first match after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where they suffered a group stage exit against Sweden, Mexico and Germany.

The match is one of two friendlies that South Korea will play this month. After meeting Costa Rica, South Korea will welcome Chile in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, next Tuesday.

This photo taken on Sept. 4, 2018, shows South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento (2nd from L) speaking with his coaching staff during training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This photo taken on Sept. 4, 2018, shows South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento (2nd from L) speaking with his coaching staff during training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Bento called up 24 players for the upcoming friendlies, most of who participated in the 2018 World Cup. Among them, eight players returned from the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, where South Korea’s under-23 team claimed a gold medal.

Since this is the first time Bento is working with South Koreans, he will be looking to test each player and will try to find out who is the best for his style of football.

Against Costa Rica, Bento is expected to use a 4-3-3 formation, which he preferred to play when he was with the Portuguese national team.

Bento expressed big expectations for those who earned gold medals at the Asian Games, saying they are joining the senior side with positive energy.

One notable player is Hwang Ui-jo, who scored nine goals in seven matches to become the top scorer at the Asian Games.

Hwang, who joined the under-23 squad as one of the three overage players, is back with the senior national team for the first time since October 2017. The 26-year-old has only one goal in 11 matches with the Taeguk Warriors but is hoping to improve his numbers following his impressive goal poaching instinct at the Asian Games.

It will be also interesting to see how Bento will use South Korea’s biggest football star Son Heung-min.

Son, who captained the U-23 team at the Asian Games, played as an attacking midfielder or supporting attacker in South Korea’s gold medal run at Jakarta-Palembang 2018. At the 2018 World Cup, he was used as a forward in a two-striker system.

This photo taken on Sept. 4, 2018, shows South Korean football players Son Heung-min (R) and Hwang Ui-jo during training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This photo taken on Sept. 4, 2018, shows South Korean football players Son Heung-min (R) and Hwang Ui-jo during training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Hwang In-beom, Kim Moon-hwan and Song Bum-keun earned their first senior national team call up, following their Asiad performance.

Hwang is an attacking midfielder who knows how to facilitate attacks with his passes and penetration. Kim is an energetic right back and will have to fight for the starter’s spot with veteran Lee Yong.

Song was the backup goalkeeper for Jo Hyeon-woo during the Asian Games. After Jo was dropped from Bento’s squad due to a knee injury on Wednesday, he was called up to fill the Daegu FC goalkeeper’s spot.

South Korea, ranked No. 59 in the latest FIFA rankings, have three wins, two draws and three losses against No. 32 Costa Rica.

The two sides last met in October 2014 for a friendly match in Seoul, and South Korea suffered a 3-1 loss.

Eight South Korean players who were at the 2014 friendly will be looking to avenge their defeat at home. On Costa Rica’s side, six players were at the 2014 friendly, including Oscar Duarte, who scored his team’s third goal.

Missing from their 23-man squad for the friendly is Keylor Navas, a goalkeeper with Real Madrid, and veteran forward Bryan Ruiz, who is with Brazilian club Santos. But the visitors will have skillful forward Joel Campbell, a former Arsenal man who also played in the 2014 friendly; Celtic right back Cristian Gamboa; and Sunderland defender Bryan Oviedo.

Elias Aguilar will be familiar to South Korean football as he is currently playing with K League 1 side Incheon United as a central midfielder. Aguilar may face his teammate Moon Seon-min in the upcoming friendly.

Costa Rica, currently led by interim coach Ronald Gonzalez, will face Japan next Tuesday after playing against South Korea.

Costa Rica were also eliminated in the group stage at the 2018 World Cup after facing teams like Serbia, Switzerland and Brazil. But they reached quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup.

 

 

 

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