South Korea has participated twelve times in the Asian Cup, but they have won the trophy only twice: in the inaugural edition in 1956 when there were only four teams and the following edition in 1960. They have ended as runners-up on four occasions, including the last edition.
Now, under an experienced coach Paulo Bento, South Korea will be hoping to defy all odds to secure the title. They will open their campaign against the Philippines on January 7.
Let us look at the three reasons why the Korean would lift the title:
#3 An experienced coach
When South Korea crashed out of the World Cup despite creating an upset by beating Germany in their final group match, many thought the country’s football has fallen to a new low.
Of course, with some talented youngsters, the team were hoping for at least the pre-quarterfinals. But their loss against Sweden and Mexico meant that they won’t qualify even if they beat Germany.
South Korea desperately needed someone who could change the climate and bring a fresh air their football. Soon after the World Cup, the appointed Paulo Bento, who was sacked from Chinese Super League club Chongqing Lifan. The move was questioned. How a coach, who couldn’t even manage a club, could save a country?
Paulo Bento has answered it all. He had managed the likes of Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo in his managerial career. Within two months after his appointment, he earned the trust of the supporters. People started filling up the stadiums again. Korea’s win against Costa Rica and a spirited draw against Chile regained the trust.
His life means nothing other than football. He has changed so many things. Video Analysis is one of them. After each game, Bento and his coaching staff get themselves busy in analysing the game and the next they point out the mistakes committed by the players.
Apart from that, Bento showed a presentation to the team and asked them to follow the five keywords for success. He also told the players not to keep the mobile phones with them during the meal and talk to each other. This created more bonding within the team, which has been reflected on the field.
In a recent interview, Bento sounded optimistic in ending Korea’s Asian Cup drought.
"I can understand that we can have positive expectations for the Asian Cup because we performed well in the last six matches. I’m confident that we'll play well, but I also know we're not the only team chasing the title. Other teams will be ready, too. I don't think we're the top favourites,”