POST MATCH REVIEW: Korea 0 – 1 Qatar

What is there to say? After an uninspiring performance against a Qatari side up to the match, Korea crashed out not with a bang, but with a whimper after conceding a speculative shot from thirty odd yards out just over ten minutes before time.

In what is now beginning to become classic Bento fashion, Korea started the match with personnel virtually unchanged from all of its prior matches—the one difference coming from Ju Se-jong’s inclusion at the expense of Hwang Hee-chan.

Kim Seung-gyu, with the continued help of black magic or something, continued to debut between the sticks with Kim Young-gwon and Kim Min-Jae in front of him – an untouchable center back pairing that also functioned as the strongest point of our side, an incredibly rare feat as defense is usually Korea’s weakest point, not its strongest.

starting xi

Kim Jin-su started on the left of defense, an understandable pick, and Lee Yong kept his spot on the right, a choice unworthy of much sympathy, considering his lackluster stamina and even worse ability to contribute to forward play. We at the Tavern see you, Kim Moon-hwan.

In front of our back 5 sat Ju Se-jong and Jung Woo-young. Uninspiring, with one of the two long since overstaying his welcome in the national side, let alone the starting line-up.

Ahead of midfield sat Hwang In-beom playing between Lee Chung-yong and Son Heung-min. Up top, Hwang Ui-jo.

The line-up was an improvement, albeit still wanting. Son had finally been placed on his preferred wing rather than playing in the hole, and Hwang In-beom deservedly took the more possession-oriented creative attacking midfielder role. Hwang Ui-jo continued up-top despite the fizzling of his form, but when your other forward option is Ji Dong-won, what is there to do?  There were rumors before the match regarding a certain Lee Seung-woo starting, but again the Hellas Verona man was sidelined.

The first half Korea started typically with the lion’s share of possession, and it led to an early chance on goal with Kim Min-jae heading a pass over to Hwang Ui-jo, unfortunately a smidge too high for him to connect with. Beyond that, higher ball possession didn’t translate to a higher goals scored rate, let alone shots on target.

Summing up Korea’s opening 30 minutes:

Towards the end of the half, Korea started to cobble things together; Son whipped in a few dangerous corners and Kim Min-jae nearly came close to replicating his previous heroics, but shots that blazed over the bar from Hwang Im-beom and Ju Se-Jong frustratingly accentuated a startling zero shots on target by the end of the first half.

One would expect a little more intention in the half to follow for the Taegeuk Warriors, but it never came. A couple of half-chances yet again came about in the Qatari box – the more dangerous ones mishit crosses – but most of the impetus came from Korea storming up the pitch on the break (Yes; On the break. Against Qatar.), before halting at the final third and knocking the ball innocuously around one another. Stielike would have been proud.

But football is a game of inches; despite all that, Son had the best chance of the night after losing his defender on the right who had slipped. Cutting inside, Son looked to secure a lead as he found himself creeping deeper into one of his favored positions in the opponents box, but his shot begged for more power as the goalkeeper made a comfortable save. 

Not much joy for Son beyond that one chance (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images).

The game came to life following that chance: Kim Jin-su came even closer to breaking the deadlock with a freekick at the edge of the box. Unlucky from him as it curled nicely only to hit the near post. 

Then it was Qatar, not Korea, who opened the scoring. Just a couple minutes after those two chances, Abdulaziz Hatem scored an Eder-esque goal as he found the ball well away from the top of our box before turning and slapping in a drive that smacked into the corner of Kim Seung-gyu’s goal. 

And then – the best restart Korea could have asked for; from kick-off, Lee Yong found a ball in a decent position, and finally swung in a decent cross – his one out of every twenty. It found Hwang Ui-jo at the top of the box who guided it nicely into the back of the Qatari net, and just like that Korea were level before being called for offsides. And yes, Hwang Ui-jo was offsides.

The game continued, but it seemed like it had been over after that wild exchange of play. Changes had been made with Koo Ja-cheol coming in for Hwang In-beom, Ji Dong-won coming in for Ju Se-jong, and Lee Seung-woo coming in for Lee Chung-yong, but the difference seemed negligible on the pitch. Qatar were content sitting on the lead and burning time while Korea failed to create anything until time. 

Again, what is there to say? An underwhelming performance through and through. Korea was lackluster through the first and second half, and Qatar punished us for it, albeit quite cruelly with a fine strike. Full credit to Qatar though – they came to play and weren’t afraid to take Korea on. Their goal may have come against the run of play, but to call it undeserved would be daft.

A plethora of reasons plague Korea’s disappointing run, and lack of oversight from the KFA on top of Bento’s questionable coaching choices lead to a number of questions, but ultimately, the team did not perform, and Korea were punished by a team that were up to the challenge. Fair play to them. 

About kkim 13 Articles
When I grow up I want to be Jo Hyeon-woo.


  1. One thing I learned about Bento in this tournament is that he is not very flexible with squad selection and he takes too long with substitutions.
    As for on the pitch performances, it feels to me that Korea’s midfield looked terrible in comparison to other departments. They were not good at bridging Korea’s attack. They hold the ball for too long to make anything happen. When they could be doing some one touch passing to open up the opposition, they take two or more touches and invite pressure on them, forcing the back pass or misplace the pass. With Ki presumably retiring from NT, Korea needs a cm/cdm that can provide confidence in possession and passing.

    • It takes time with Korea and it cant just magically happen. At least we know they are great defensively but their only problem is attack. Give Bento more time, his sole focus is the qualifiers and World Cup 2022 not Asian cup and i dont think the KFA set any goals for him to aciebe in this comp. His just experimentimg, it will come to fruit starting from now on.

  2. Maybe theres a silver lining to this outcome, maybe after this Bento will start calling up younger talented players for the future and also freshen things up. Maybe the KFA told him to not really say too much attention to the comp. His main focus starts right now which is the world cup qualifiers and nw you will see his true colors. I think Korea will just be fine, its better to not do well than lter cause it happen with Stielke. They were great in the Asian cup but flop after that during friendlies in qualifiers which led to his dismissal.

  3. At this point I’m blaming the players. We continue to be on a downward slide. Doesn’t matter how many “stars” we have, doesn’t matter who our coach is… yes the KFA deserves blame too, but the mismanagement happens in many countries. The players on the pitch just don’t play well consistently. I’m tired of making excuses for them. Don’t say “Ki was injured,” Ki was playing when we lost spectacularly to Algeria 4-2 and our horrible play against Sweden and Mexico.
    We shot to the stratosphere in 2002 and rode that wave under brilliant leadership of park ji sung but it didn’t last too long. Once he retired, KSY, KJC, LCY, and now sadly SHM just haven’t been able to get it together for the national team. I’m willing to keep Son but more and more doubts creeping in. Anyone else who has been with the team since 2010/2011, dump their ass. Seriously GET OUT and bring on the young blood.
    Iran and Japan are kicking our asses. They don’t have superstars like Son and Ki, but instead the entire team has consistency and play well together as a team. Hell even Qatar played that way yesterday. I really hope we don’t slide behind Middle Eastern teams in terms of best teams in Asia because we already have enough problems. If we don’t make changes now that’s exactly what’s gonna happen.

    • I don’t mean to minimize how bad the KFA is. Obviously they are shit and deserve equal blame for all the problems. But I’m pretty sure the KFA had no idea what it was doing in 2002 either

  4. I aint not expert but isnt he picking the same guys as Schielke or however you spell it.. I say give Suk hyun jun a shot and bring the kids playing in germany/spain up..LKI

  5. I part of me honestly saw this coming. Maybe not against Qatar, but it felt like the team wasn’t playing at the level needed to win the competition. The only thing that kept my hopes up was the fact that Japan and Australia weren’t exactly setting the world on fire either, otherwise I would have written Korea off a long time ago. Korea just hasn’t looked tactically sound for a while now. And it pains me to know that 4 agonizing years will have to pass before the team gets another chance. By then, players like Lee Yong, Ki, and Koo will probably be gone. And Son will be 30 going on 31.
    It might also be an annoying thing to say, but I’m not a fan of Paulo Bento. His style of play reminds me of AVB and Spurs from a few years ago. Retain possession, hoof the ball around, and wait for someone to do something special. Korea were anemic in attack, and the defence seemed to get exposed easily on counterattacks (although I suppose that’s just a product of teams sitting back and waiting for the jump). Son was phased out of games (either due to fatigue of defensive marking) and couldn’t influence as well as I would have hoped. And the substitutions! Lee Seung-woo needed to be in!!! The problem probably runs deeper than Bento though….
    Pessimism aside, it’s at least encouraging that the team was able to control possession and dictate tempo even with all of the key injuries. Maybe having Ki Seung-yeung and Lee Jae-sung would have changed things. It’s a shame Kwon Chang-hoon has missed two major tournaments because of injury, but hopefully he can return and spark some positivity. Kim Min-jae was solid and hopefully garnered more interest from European clubs. It’s very reassuring to know that the goalkeeper position is in safe hands for a while (though I wish Jo Hyeon-woo would start again). Also I heard Korea is looking to bid for the 2023 tournament, which would be a massive opportunity! Hopefully some young players come through over the next 4 years.

    Sorry for the rambling, just trying to get my spirits up. I actually liked Lee Yong! Seemed like the only one who cared at times and was always attacking and looking to cross, even if he didn’t ever find anyone.

    • I think it’s too early to say that the useless and toothless possession style is Bento’s style for KNT. He didn’t have enough time to completely implement a style. This was his first real competition after some friendlies. Not having Son from the beginning, all the injuries, out of form players, and the KFA mess didn’t help either. I’m not sure if top tier managers like Pep or Klopp could have done much better.

  6. Korea definitely wasn’t very imaginative. From watching all of the 5 matches, Korea looked disinterested in all of them except for maybe against China and the last 20 mins of the Qatar match. I want to speculate that maybe nationalistic rivalry played a part in Korea’s showing up for the match against China. Son usually is in tears after a loss. Him and most of the team seemed like they couldn’t wait to catch the next plane back to their teams.
    There doesn’t seem to be a “culture of winning” with the national team since the Asian Games. Winning is contagious so players need to take every chance they get to win tournaments. Are they solely motivated from playing for exemption?
    Bento doesn’t seem to be bringing that culture change either.
    If Korea isn’t winning regional tournaments then how are we expected to compete against the world?

  7. I was wrong- maybe U gave Bento too much credit. It was the optimist in me. I felt it didn’t matter that the style was boring and uninspiring as long as we were getting results. Well, when your first loss is against Qatar in the QF of a knockout tournament, that’s pretty inexcusable. The only excuses I’ll give are A) he just started and B) Qatar might actually be on the rise, so give credit to them. They looked good, they have looked good all tournament, and they’re trying to make a statement before they host the World Cup.

    Any other excuses need to be thrown out the door. The boys just aren’t getting it done, and can’t seem to get it done no matter who the coach is. I’m a bit tired of making excuses for Son. For as much skill as he has and for as much love as Tottenham fans have for him, it just seems more and more likely that he’s never gonna do well for the KNT (all of this is talking about the senior team, the only one I really follow or care about).

    As for me, I’ve kind of lost hope in the KNT. I’ll still watch the occasional friendly, but likely won’t be getting my hopes up for the KNT and will just watch the sport to enjoy good games. It’s become a bit too depressing for me to see the same thing happen over and over to the KNT. The Germany victory just masked our problems and made me worried that the fans were celebrating mediocrity. Going out in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup is mediocre, especially for a team that supposedly wants to win it.

    Sorry for the depressing post. On the bright side, there’s hope that the young guys will save us!

  8. Did some googling of Bento, and what I’m gathering is that he has a reputation for stubbornness, both tactically and personnel-wise.

    He’s not known for adaptation, he’ll stick to his tactics even in the face of poor results. He’s also known for developing favored players, who again he’s liable to stick w/ thru thick and thin; what this means for subbing/rotation wasn’t entirely clear. Resolve is good in the right circumstances, but it’s also easy to see how that can become a flaw when misapplied, defying reality basically.

    He also has a history for holding a grudge against players who cross him, telling them they don’t need to bother showing up at camp again. In Bento’s defense tho, the famous incident involving 2 of Portugal’s top defenders, they had effectively lied to him, so its understandable.

    Its still early days, so I’m willing to see what Bento is really capable of given enough time. What he said about SK having created plenty of opportunities, just not finishing, is correct (looking right at the Hwangs…). It was also a perfect storm of fitness issues; how would things have been different w/ a fully healthy Ki, LJS, even Son?

    He also mentioned “upcoming players” when talking about sticking to his plan, I’m assuming the likes of Paik SH, Lee KI, Kwon CH, so I’m curious how he’d utilize them (let’s add LSW to this mix).

    Finally, I’m of the opinion that Hwang UJ cannot be the answer, it’s just SK doesn’t have a better alternative atm, but they badly need one; he may be doing more harm than good. Hwang HC is also on the clock, at 22 he’s about to pass “prospect” stage; he must show rapid improvement on his product, refinement & consistency, no more excuses of “this is just how I play”. Get back that Red Bull mojo.

    I haven’t given up on the NT, there are still good ingredients there; waiting to see if the chef can whip something up

    • Just read an article where Japan’s coach, Hajime Moriyasu, credited their win over Iran to tactical flexibility. That they have ideals about what their style should be, but when faced w/ reality they adapt as necessary.

      As opposed to Bento, who said he doesn’t care who the opponent is, SK would impose their style over whoever, go all steamroller on them.


  9. I read this page sometimes but now I hate Korean team. Because I just saw Japan just killed Iran 3-0. We can’t beat Iran in long time and can’t score on Iran. Why are we so bad..
    I never thought I say this but maybe I cheer for Japan now. I must admit they play really good football. Actually I dream we can play like them.

    • They really are a tight unit. Dang, why can’t we be like that lol.

      Personnel-wise, on defense I’d say JP has the edge, but offensively we have more on-paper talent. Still hasn’t translated real world, which is so frustrating.

      I’m still hopeful for the upcoming crop of talent, particularly attacking midfield. Maybe this could finally free up Son from having to do “playmaker” duty, and he could just concentrate on finishing (taking over for Hwang UJ, Please!)

  10. I’m just going to say it. I am not impressed with Bento. Early days or not, I think he was overrated based on his unbeaten streak going into this tournament, and at the first true test, he floundered. The players and KFA should be motivated to win this competition, it will only grow in popularity with its expansion to 24 teams and money prize. We shouldn’t be making any excuses, the facts are there in plain sight. We did not score many goals, we couldn’t keep a clean sheet against Bahrain or Qatar, both teams ranked nearly 30-40 spots below us. This is a bad moment for the KNT. If Bento doesn’t make improvements over the next year or so (developing new talent, improve our attack) I don’t know that we are any better off than we were with Shin Tae Young or Stielike. All the best managers have to be able to get their tactics right (nothing so far) and be able to motivate their team to execute them (also no go). How about we go after Park Hang Seo????

    • Didn’t the referee admit that Bahrain’s goal was offside and shouldn’t have counted? Also, Qatar’s goal was pretty ridiculous. It went through the legs of a Korean player and went in the bottom corner.

      Park Hang Seo seems like a excellent man manager, but I’m not sure he’s a good tactician. He might be a better fit for an underdog team like Vietnam. Let’s give Bento some time.

  11. To be optimistic, maybe Bento really did want to have a change of players after this tournament. Think about it. If he took all the young players this tournament and did really bad, all the Koreans would probably say, bring back Ki, LCY, JDW, etc.. There might have been a rift with his plan. But now that he has played all the older players and failed, it will be easier for him to start bringing in the younger generation, since most of the comments I hear now is about that. Maybe he is a master mind after all… Lets not forget, it has only been 5 months since he took over. He probably had no idea who these korean players were. Lets see what kind of changes he can make going forward.

    • This makes sense from a long term strategic point of view but Bento was pressured to win the whole thing, He must have put in who he thought was his best lineup.

  12. Bento’s management of the team was really bad.. Team selection was an issue. He kept on using the same players regardless of their physical fitness and condition… He never did any rotation or early substitution to avoid players exhausted as we could see in Son. In the game against Qatar, the team had no progress in the 2nd half – players were slow and failed to create space and penetrate in the box, Bento was too late to make any change to refresh the team until it was down by 1-0. In Asia, Iran, Japan and even Australia are already well ahead of Korea. When facing Saudi, Iraq or UAE, Korea will have a very difficult match. Korea used to rely on their stamina and speed to press and move forward but seemed this character has faded.

  13. “Son Heung Min travels too much. He was too tired to play for Korea. Bento should have rested him!!”
    Annnnd he plays a full 90 minutes and scores for Tottenham. He played for KNT in UAE 5 days ago.
    Sorry, this guy just doesn’t play well for Korea. That’s it. Don’t tell me he’s tired. Good for Son, good for Tottenham. I really am proud of him. But I have no faith in the KNT. Maybe these guys just don’t like playing for Korea.

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