January 29, 2019 12:36
Korean footballers returned home on Monday after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup in the UAE.
The team's 1-0 loss to Qatar last Friday prompted Korea's earliest exit from the tournament in 15 years.
"I am sorry that we did not meet the expectations and achieve the results we wanted. There can be criticisms directed at me as a manager, but I will remain firm and try to lead the team forward," head coach Paulo Bento told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "We lacked decisiveness in front of the goal, but it doesn't mean that our style of football was wrong."
Bento was cautious when asked to comment on the possible retirement of some key players who were part of the bronze medal winning team at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Koo Ja-cheol of FC Augsburg announced his retirement from the national team after last Friday's match, while Ki Sung-yueng of Newcastle United is also considering it.
"I respect Koo's decision and will do so if Ki makes his intention to retire clear. I will look out for many young and promising players while we prepare for the Asian preliminaries for the next World Cup," Bento said.
Speaking on behalf of the players, Kim Min-jae said, "We are grateful and also sorry that many fans came to greet us despite our early exit from the Asian Cup. I think nerves and pressure got to us, as we felt pressure to excel as a strong Asian team."
Korea is now scheduled to play a friendly against Vietnam in March.
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