South Korea coach Cho Kwang-rae was a proud man after watching his side finish their Asian Cup campaign undefeated in third place.
Speaking after his team’s 3-2 win over Uzbekistan in the third-place play-off at Al Sadd Stadium, Cho said he was satisfied he had played his part in guiding the Koreans in playing an attractive and effective style.
Ji Dong scored twice and Koo Ja-cheol netted another as South Korea held on to secure their spot in the 2015 Asian Cup to be held in Australia.
“We haven’t lost a game at the Asian Cup. The penalty shootout defeat against Japan was my fault. I want to say thank you to all the players who sacrificed for the team, they never gave up with excellent fighting spirit,” Cho said.
“I believe that we could have won the tournament but when it comes to penalty shootouts, not many people can predict the result.”
“This tournament gave us a lot of opportunity to show the world the new possibilities of Korean football.”
“I believe we’ve changed the way we play. It’s a much better way so I want to keep working on this progress to better Korean football.”
Cho said his side were able to control their midfield game in their Cup campaign, but he wants the side to bookend their neat play in the middle with precise finishing and solid defence in future tournaments.
“Throughout the Asian Cup, I found the players were able to pass the ball through midfield much quicker than before so that aspect I was quite satisfied about,” he said.
“I would like to improve on what we’re doing, be faster in front of goal to make us much more effective and also strengthen the defensive organisation.”
Uzbekistan boss Vadim Abramov credited his team’s mental toughness after they recovered from three goals down to almost snatch a draw as Alexander Geynrikh’s double either side of half-time drew them closer.
The result was a vast improvement on their 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Australia in the semi-final as they achieved their best result at Asia’s premier soccer tournament.
“Their psychology, I don’t know why the players made so many mistakes but after our goal and half-time, I told players we have a chance, we have 45 minutes to use all preparation for this tournament and then players in the second half played much better and we had a chance to draw,” Abramov said.
“I think the reason was that we did not have belief in our self in the Australia game. In that game we played well but our defensive line made too many mistakes. We had more possession but it was too easy for Australia to score.”