Group H’s final game in the group stage
Bento against his home country, Portugal
In response to questions from the official press conference
“I cannot represent both countries.
I have to do my best in Korea.”
Coach Paulo Bento (53, photo), the commanding tower of Korean football, beamed at an official press conference held at the Main Media Center in Doha, Qatar on the 23rd. After being asked, “As a Portuguese, how does it feel to face Portugal as your opponent (in the last match of the group stage)?” In this question asked by a Portuguese reporter, there was room to interpret whether the former coach of the Portuguese national football team was a mercenary sold for money or a traitor.
There was also some expectation as Bento faced his native Portugal in Group H of the group stage.
In fact, in European football, there is not so much attention paid to a coach from his country who has to face his country in a major event like the World Cup. Then, Director Bento’s answer also raised the tone more than usual. “I have Portuguese nationality. He emphasized that he was born in Portugal and is Portuguese all his life,” and added, “As a professional leader, I will do my best for Korea’s victory.” At the end, a sigh of sorrow was added.
Coach Bento said, “(Portugal facing Portugal as an enemy) this kind of situation can come out of the World Cup,” he said. Coach Queiroz, who is used to blowing ‘fist potatoes’ against Korea, took over the Portuguese national team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as Bento, but faced Portugal as coach of Iran at the Russian 2018 tournament.
In the history of the World Cup, cases like coach Bento are frequent. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Brazilian-born Japanese coach Zico faced Brazil in the group stage. England’s first foreign coach, coach Sven Gheran Eriksson, also faced his country, Sweden, in successive World Cups in Korea and Japan and the World Cup in Germany. The two command towers expressed their uncomfortable feelings, but as foreign leaders, it was an inevitable fate.
In this World Cup, 9 teams out of 32 countries are led by foreign coaches. Depending on the situation, the possibility of dealing with the homeland is open.
It’s not the World Cup, but it’s also an example that can’t be ignored that former coach Guus Hiddink, the protagonist of the Korea-Japan World Cup quarter-final, led Russia to defeat his country, the Netherlands, in the round the last eight in the 2008 European Football Championship. However, unlike other coaches, former coach Hiddink did not care, saying, “I have done a huge and unbelievable thing in my football life.”
In the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, Bento played as a Portuguese midfielder in the group stage match against Korea. It was a game where Portugal were eliminated from the round of 16 as they were defeated 0-1 by conceding the winning goal to Park Ji-Sung. This game was Bento’s last A game.
“I can’t believe that I’m participating in the World Cup as the commanding tower of Korean football now,” said Bento. “I can’t represent both countries. I support Portugal, but as the coach of Korea, I have to do my best.