Paulo Bento blames profligacy for South Korea's Asian Cup exit to Qatar

South Korea could not convert their greater possession into goals at Zayed Sports City Stadium

South Korea's coach Paulo Bento (L) reacts as Qatar's coach Felix Sanchez (2nd-L) celebrates the win during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final football match between South Korea and Qatar at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on January 25, 2019.  / AFP / Khaled DESOUKI
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South Korea manager Paulo Bento blamed his team’s profligacy for their Asian Cup quarter-final exit to Qatar on Friday.

Abdelaziz Hatim's long-range effort 12 minutes from time gave Qatar a 1-0 victory at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi over a fancied South Korea side ranked 40 places higher.

“We created more chances than the opponents but we couldn’t score,” Bento said after his side failed to find a way through the Qatar defence, despite holding more possession and enjoying territorial advantage.

“We had similar problems in the previous matches as we didn’t score as much as we should after creating a lot of opportunities. Obviously it became our problem at the end.”

South Korea’s exit will see Qatar face the UAE at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, after the tournament hosts defeated defending champions Australia in Friday’s later fixture.

“It was a balanced game but Qatar played a more efficient match than we did,” Bento said. “We tried to control the game against a team that had very good organisation at the back.

“After the goal we had one ball hitting the post and we had other opportunities as well. We controlled possession but still we conceded a goal.”

Qatar manager Felix Sanchez was full of praise for his players after booking their first appearance in an Asian Cup semi-final.

“We achieved history by reaching the semi-finals in an Asian Cup for the first time,” he said. “We hit a wall in the first 25 minutes but we didn’t allow any chances for the other team.

“In the second half, we had a great start and became better as the game progressed. We scored and it was well deserved.

“This is an outstanding team. We celebrate every win and tonight was one step more. Everyone was celebrating. It’s good for them to celebrate and relieve the pressure after every game.”

Despite allowing his team to celebrate their latest win, Sanchez insisted that they will be fully focused for their next assignment against the UAE, with the winners booking their place in the final.

“We are taking the competition day by day, and now we’ll prepare for the next game as we have done all through this competition,” the Spaniard said.

“We have to make the players believe they can compete with the best 24 teams on the continent.

“What’s important was to understand our game plans against whom we play. We haven’t played this strategy against Korea for the first time but it all worked out well for us on the night.”