South Korea told to take nothing for granted against surprise package Qatar in Asian Cup clash

South Korea are expecting a tricky tie against Qatar. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019

South Korea told to take nothing for granted against surprise package Qatar in Asian Cup clash

  • South Korea coach Bento knows his side have to go up a gear if they are to reach the semifinals.
  • Star man Son yet to score in the UAE, but Bento says he is not worried.

LONDON: Paulo Bento has warned his South Korea team to expect a tough test against Qatar in their quarterfinal clash in Abu Dhabi today.
Bento’s boys went into the tournament as the favorite to lift the trophy in just over a week’s time. But some underwhelming performances in the UAE so far, culminating in the injury-time victory over Bahrain in the second round, has left South Korea’s fans and coach looking for the side to hit top gear, and soon.
They face Qatar who have won all their matches and look like the team to beat, leaving Bento to tell his stars that they have to be at their best to make the last-four.
“It will be a very difficult game. They are very good offensively and defensively. This is a team that has worked together for a long time with a coach (Felix Sanchez) who knows the players very well,” the South Korea coach said.
Bento said Korea Republic need to assert their style if they want to contain Qatar.
“We must play as we like to play. We must control the ball, dominate in the offensive part of our midfield. There must be good reaction when we lose the ball and we must also control the space behind our defensive line.”
If South Korea are to avoid defeat then they may well need Son Heung-min to show why he is one of the best players in the world. Since turning up in the UAE the Tottenham star has failed to show he is one of the best players in his own team. Goalless and looking tired, Son has not shone in the Asian Cup so far, but that is not something that bothers his boss.
“I am not concerned that Son hasn’t scored, it isn’t mandatory that he scores for the national team,” said Bento.
“For us, what is most important is that we score in every game in this competition. I think we should have scored more goals as we created a lot of situations in almost all the games we played.
“It is not important who scores, what is most important is that we create opportunities and score.”


Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

Updated 01 October 2020

Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

  • The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match

PARIS: Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal raced into the third round.

The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tuneup event.

“The Achilles didn't have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams, who admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semifinals in New York.

“I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.”

The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.

Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer's 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in exactly 100 minutes and will meet Japan's Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.

“The aim was to play as well as possible. I'm very happy. I have another difficult match next,” said Nadal. The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.

The Austrian third seed will play Norway's Casper Ruud, seeded 28th, or American Tommy Paul for a place in the last 16.

“I'm very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I'm very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens had to be taken off court in a wheelchair after a fiery win over former finalist Sara Errani.

Bertens triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 9-7 in a three-hour 11-minute clash which left her in cramps and Italian Errani screaming an obscenity as she left the court.

"After one hour, she's injured but then she's running around like never before," said Errani.

"She leaves the court in a chair and now she's in the locker room and eating in the restaurant, perfect. She exaggerated."

Bertens is due to meet Katerina Siniakova next while Elina Svitolina overcame Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

The Ukrainian third seed is coming off a title at Strasbourg last week and will next play Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, but was briefly taken aback by a sonic boom.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany's Dominik Koepfer.

Sebastian Korda, the son of 1992 Roland Garros runner-up and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, also progressed after a four-sets victory over fellow American John Isner.