South Korea v Qatar: Bento calls for clinical quarter-final performance
South Korea head coach Paulo Bento wants his side to be more ruthless in front of goal when they face Qatar in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.
Bento's men advanced to the last eight courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 extra-time win over Bahrain on Tuesday, a victory sealed by Kim Jin-su's goal in stoppage time at the end of the first additional period.
Qatar, meanwhile, overcame Iraq thanks to Bassam Al Rawi's solitary goal and both teams boast a 100 per cent record at this year's tournament, meaning something has to give at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Friday.
Tottenham forward Son Heung-min has not found the net in his two matches since joining up with the team, but Bento insists the onus is on the collective to shoulder the responsibility of taking their opportunities.
"I am not concerned that Son hasn't scored, it isn't mandatory that he scores for the national team," said Bento.
"For us, what is most important is that we score in every game in this competition. I think we should have scored more goals as we created a lot of situations in almost all the games we played. It is not important who scores, what is most important is that we create opportunities and score.
"It will be a very difficult game. They are very good offensively and defensively. This is a team that has worked together for a long time with a coach who knows the players very well."
Bento's opposite number, Felix Sanchez, will have to make do without suspended pair Abdelkarim Hassan and Assim Madibo and the Spaniard accepts his side face a stern challenge in the shape of the two-time champions.
"We know we are going to face a very tough game against what many people believe are one of the favourites for the tournament," he said. "Once you reach this far in the competition, it is normal to have injuries or players suspended.
"We are a group of 23 players, and we have every confidence in all the players who are here. Of course, it would be better to have everyone available, but we are sure that we will maintain our [current level] and be ready to compete."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Korea – Kim Min-jae
Nicknamed 'Monster', centre-back and reported Watford target Kim will have his work cut out against the tournament's top-scorer Almoez Ali, who netted seven times in the group stage, including four against North Korea in a 6-0 rout.
Qatar - Saad Al Sheeb
Sanchez's side are yet to concede a goal at the competition and if the Al Sadd keeper can maintain that record against the likes of Spurs star Son, Qatar will have an excellent chance of reaching a first Asian Cup semi-final.
Qatar are just the 4th side that has gone through their opening 4 games of an #AsianCup tournament without conceding— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 22, 2019
They've allowed just 5 shots on target so far in the #AsianCup2019
KEY OPTA FACTS
- This will be the fourth encounter between South Korea and Qatar in the Asian Cup but the first time in the knockout stage - South Korea winning two and Qatar winning the other in group-stage meetings.
- South Korea are looking to reach the Asian Cup semi-finals for the fourth successive tournament – only three sides have achieved this feat (Iran five – 1972-1988, Japan four – 2000-2011 and Saudi Arabia five – 1984-2000).
- Qatar's 1-0 victory over Iraq in the round of 16 was their first ever knockout-stage win in the Asian Cup – however, they have lost both quarter-final matches, in 2000 against China and 2011 against Japan.
- After just five clean sheets in their first 32 Asian Cup games (nine tournaments), Qatar have kept four clean sheets in their four games in the 2019 Asian Cup.
- South Korea's Son Heung-min has created 10 chances for his team-mates in the 2019 Asian Cup; only Qatar's Akram Hassan Afif (13) has created more.