South Korea needs passion, cohesion and a bit of luck against Portugal

South Korea will have two things to offer when they face Portugal in their final Group H match at the World Cup – collective dedication and passion – as they hope for a miracle to qualify for the last 16 on Friday.

The Koreans are third in Group H by one point and must beat Portugal to have a chance at the knockout stage for a third time after 2002 and 2010. Portugal have already qualified but need one more point to guarantee first place, so may not bring a reserve team into the Education City stadium.

The availability of Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is still under discussion after he missed Wednesday’s training and stayed in the gym to recover and do specific exercises. South Korea coach Paulo Bento, a former Portugal international, said on Thursday that his home country has “one of the best generations of Portuguese football”.

That was echoed by defender Kim Young-Gwon who told a press conference: “He (Ronaldo) is a world class player, this is a well known fact and they have all these talented players. To contain them, we will have to play as a team, as a unit.

“We played our first two games with passion and we will have to show that passion again tomorrow. But we also need a bit of luck. If we have all that, we can create a miracle.”

South Korea lost 3-2 to Ghana in their second game after a 0-0 draw with Uruguay and find themselves with their backs against the wall.

“We can’t help but move forward,” Kim said on Thursday.

Bento added that it didn’t matter if his Portuguese counterpart, Fernando Santos, fielded a first-choice team.

“He can play in different ways, with different formations, he can make three or four changes in his team and they stay at the same level,” said Bento.

“In addition, the context is favorable for them as they are already qualified and a draw guarantees first place.”

Bento is suspended for the game after a red card in the game against Ghana, but he trusts his assistants completely.

“They make most of the choices, they introduce them to me. It won’t be a problem. This time they are on their own, but not much will change,” added Bento, who said he will sing the Portuguese national anthem from the stands.

Leave a Comment