SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea named former Portugal boss Paulo Bento as the new coach of the national soccer team on Friday.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced the decision at its headquarters in Seoul, adding that the 49-year-old had signed a four-year contract to take the side through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The former Portugal midfielder, who lined up against South Korea in their 2002 World Cup match in Incheon, has also managed club sides Sporting, Cruzeiro and Olympiakos.
He was appointed head coach of Chinese side Chongqing Lifan in December but was fired last month with the team sitting 12th in the league and knocked out of the Chinese FA Cup.
During his four-year stint in charge of his native Portugal, Bento led the side to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 but suffered disappointment at the World Cup two years later when they exited at the group stage.
Kim Pan-gon, head of the KFA’s national team coach appointment committee, said Bento ticked all the boxes on their wish list and his appointment would help develop Korean football.
“Bento is a fit for South Korean football as he promotes a pressing style of play that doesn’t allow opponents to build their attacks and also stifles counterattacks,” said Kim.
He added that the committee saw Bento as a coach who exudes “charisma, professionalism, passion and confidence”.
Bento’s first major task will be to win South Korea’s first Asian Cup since 1960, with the tournament taking place in the United Arab Emirates in January.
He will then have to prepare the side for the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying campaign.
Bento steps in to replace Shin Tae-yong, who took over towards the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign and whose contract expired last month.
Shin had taken over from German Uli Stielike after the German was fired amid a run of poor results that left Korea’s chances of qualifying for Russia hanging by a thread.
Shin oversaw a disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia where the Koreans lost to Sweden and Mexico before producing a stunning 2-0 win over defending champions Germany in the final group game.
Bento will be in charge for South Korea’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Chile next month.
Reporting by Joori Roh; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Greg Stutchbury