The 2019 Asian Cup, which recently took place from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1 in the United Arab Emirates, required many athletes to rigorously prepare for the games. A quadrennial international men’s football tournament organized by the Asian Football Confederation, the Asian Cup includes teams from 24 countries all across Asia competing together. In preparation for the event, the South Korean team’s new coach, Paulo Bento, took special care of the athletes’ physical condition by hiring professional health coaches. However, while the South Korean team seized victory in games against the Philippines, China, and Kyrgyzstan, it also faced difficulties due to several athletes suffering from injuries.
“The South Korean team’s performance in the Asian Cup was remarkable,” said Sarah Hwang (11), varsity soccer player. “Among the games the South Korean team played, the match against the Philippines was the most outstanding. It’s clear that the Korean athletes’ passing accuracy improved due to a strong team formation. Coach Bento must have diligently trained the athletes.”
Unfortunately, however, the physical conditions of several athletes progressively declined. Midfielder Ki Sung Yueng even left the Asian Cup due to his hamstring injury. Given the increasing number of athletes who sustained injuries, one of the greatest difficulties Coach Bento faced was creating intensive training drills.
“During South Korea’s game against the Philippines, attacking midfielder Lee Jae Sung had his toe injured,” said Jisue Shin (10), a soccer enthusiast. “It must have been really difficult for coach Bento to plan drills that suited each player because strong midfielders like Lee Jae Sung were injured.”
Despite this struggle, however, Coach Bento persistently endeavored to bring the team to victory. Most notably, the coach cooperated with physical health professionals, including fitness instructor Pedro Pereira, to maintain the players’ strong physical conditions. In order to ensure the best possible method of training, Coach Bento even communicated with his co-coaches to select appropriate drills for his players.
“The level of professionalism Coach Bento prepared for the Asian Cup is quite extraordinary,” Sarah said. “In addition to soccer coaches, he has sports scientists and personal fitness trainers prepared. Besides his diligent preparation, Coach Bento is remarkable for his proactive tactics. His offensive strategies often throw the opponents off, as showcased in the game against the Philippines.”
Knowing that different countries play with different strategies, Coach Bento planned two tactics to counter various teams. While pushing for his offensive strategy, he trained his team to be strong defenders as well. Although there must have been a significant burden on Coach Bento for newly acquiring his position, he made a good start to his career as a soccer coach in Korea.
“Judging from what I’ve seen, I think Coach Bento did a good job leading the South Korean team,” said Ricky Green, PE teacher. “In sports, having an offensive as well as a strong defensive strategy is crucial for the team to be competitive. Coach Bento well-prepared the South Korean players to be strong in their play.”