Jun 16 2012
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Bucker pleased with performance against S.Korea
16 June 2012
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s 3-0 defeat to South Korea can be summed up with one anecdote from coach Theo Bucker. Immediately after Lebanon’s 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan in Beirut last Friday, the national team flew to Doha before moving on to Korea.
As the team boarded their flight from Doha to Seoul, the players suffered the indignity of walking through the first class section of the plane that was full of South Korean players fresh from their win over Qatar.
Players who have graced Champions Leagues and World Cups lay reclined on their collapsible seats, many asleep, catching up on their rest ahead of their match Monday.
“The players were really tired from the flight. Korean players were seated in first class while we were seated in the back of the plane. It’s a disgrace that the players had to sit in the economy seats,” Bucker told The Daily Star.
A country with the infrastructure, economy, population and instability that Lebanon endures simply cannot compete with a rival like South Korea. The anecdote certainly sheds light on just how miraculous Lebanon’s November win over the South Koreans truly was.
Losing 3-0 against South Korea in their own backyard is no disgrace, and Bucker was keen to point out as much, although the German perfectionist insisted the result could have been different.
“We played a very good match, again we made three needless mistakes and they were enough for us to lose the game.
“In the last three games [against Qatar, Uzbekistan and South Korea] we dropped points because of concentration. This is very sad but at the same time we can take a lot of hope ahead [of the next round of fixtures]. I was actually very pleased with the performance of the team.
“Now inside of me, I am not afraid of playing Korea again, or Uzbekistan or whoever. We just have to concentrate on that last 5 percent and staying mentally fit – there we are not good enough,” the coach added.
Performances continue to fluctuate, and it is easy to forget that Lebanon have yet to win a game since their 1-0 victory over Iraq in mid-January. Sadly the same refrains are coming out of Bucker, the mastermind of Lebanon’s unprecedented run.
“Whenever I am coming to a new place, everybody listens to me [completely]. They listen and change their ideas to [match] my mentality, then we are successful. As soon as we are successful everybody is an expert and everybody is talking about us and telling us what to do and this is the problem for us,” Bucker said.
“In all of my previous posts it has been the same. If I am alone 100 percent everything works.
“In the previous rounds there was no outside interference, it was just me coaching and managing the side.
“I don’t know [if the players are unable to deal with success],” he added.
Looking ahead to Lebanon’s crunch game with Iran, it is clear what Bucker feels needs to be improved: concentration.
“All goals were avoidable. The second goal was due to bad positioning, first and third down to individual mistakes.
“On one hand I am happy that after the last game we showed that we don’t need to be afraid of anybody,” Bucker said.
“However, there has to come a point where we have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. We were only put under large pressure when they were counterattacking ... This environment is new for the team.”
Lebanon can at least acknowledge that South Korea took them seriously, a significant compliment from one of the world’s major sides.
Korea fouled Lebanon at every opportunity, ensuring that there were no breakaway chances.
“Whenever we passed the halfway line, they tactically fouled us and never got punished for it,” Bucker said.
Bucker acknowledgedthat a few bookings for Korea would have made a difference for Lebanon. “When we brought on Zakaria Charara [for Hasan Maatouk in the second half], he pushed someone from behind a little bit and immediately got a yellow card.”© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
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