|Korea's head coach Paulo Bento waits for the start of his team's round of 16 match against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. Yonhap|
Paulo Bento will not be returning as head coach of the Korean men's national football team.
Bento made the announcement in the early hours of Tuesday in Doha, moments after Korea lost to Brazil 4-1 in the round of 16 at Stadium 974 in the Qatari capital.
"I have to think about the future. It will not be with the national team for South Korea," Bento, a Portugal native, said through an interpreter at his post-match press conference. "I just told the players and the president of the Korea Football Association. This is a decision that I had already taken in September. It was set in stone."
Bento was the longest-serving head coach in Korean national football history, having started his job in August 2018.
Korea had 35 wins, 13 draws and nine losses under Bento.
|Korea's Son Jun-ho, Son Heung-min and coach Paulo Bento look dejected after the match as Korea are eliminated from the World Cup, Dec. 5. Reuters-Yonhap|
Korea had gone through coaching changes barely a year before the 2014 and the 2018 World Cups, while Bento was in charge for the entire four-year buildup to the 2022 tournament. And the rout at the hands of Brazil did little to diminish the sense of pride Bento felt for his team.
"Our participation makes me proud and satisfied. This was one of the best groups I've worked with," Bento said. "I thank them for everything they've done. I am very proud to have been their manager."
Bento often faced criticism for not diversifying his tactics and for sticking with a small group of players without expanding his talent pool. But by taking the underdog team to the knockout phase in Qatar, Bento silenced his detractors.
|Head coach of Korea Paulo Bento embraces Cho Gue-sung as he leaves the pitch during the FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Brazil and Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap|
Korea held world No. 14 ranked Uruguay to a goalless draw to begin their journey. They lost to Ghana 3-2 but not before erasing a 2-0 deficit with two quick goals in the second half. Korea then stunned Portugal 2-1 in the final group match to book a date with Brazil in the round of 16.
Though Korea barely put up a fight against the Selecao, Bento said he was happy with the four-plus years of process, calling it "extraordinary."
"I would say that we were very bold in how we approached the games, even during the knockout phase," Bento said. "We were loyal to our game style." (Yonhap)