It was ‘Benverge’ after all. After leaving South Korea to take charge of the UAE in the Middle East, Paulo Bento made his UAE managerial debut with a win. In a four-goal fireworks display, the Three Lions cruised to a 4-1 victory over North and Central American powerhouse Costa Rica.
The United Arab Emirates defeated Costa Rica 4-1 in a friendly match at Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, Croatia, on Wednesday (July 13). The UAE scored three goals in the first half and added one more in the second half to complete the rout of a one-goal Costa Rica side. In his first game in charge, Bento marked his debut with a comfortable victory.
Costa Rica lined up in a 4-4-2 with Lee’s teammate Keylor Navas in goal. Jeffrey Valverde, Julio Cascante, Francisco Calvo, and Ronald Matarrita formed the back four. Jimmy Marin, Sebastian Acuña Murillo, Alejandro Bran, and Randall Lill formed the midfield. Manfred Ugalde and Joel Capmel completed the front two.
The UAE lined up in Bento’s favorite 4-2-3-1. Khalid Eisa was in goal, while Abdullah Idris, Khalid Al Hashemi, Khalifa Al Hammadi, and Khalid Ibrahim combined in defense. Yahya Nader and Ali Salmin lined up in midfield, while Yahya Algassani, Ali Saleh, and Fabiu Birginiu supported frontman Kaiu in the second line.
The opening goal came quickly. In the 16th minute, Algassani received a pass from Birginio and dribbled through the box before firing a shot that rattled the post. Navas quickly got a hand to it, but the ball deflected off him and into the back of the net.
A second goal in the 23rd minute gave the UAE the lead. Saleh’s pass into the middle of the box was centered by Khaoui, who slotted home his second goal of the game. With a two-goal lead, the UAE added to their lead in the 38th minute when Birginiu’s shot deflected off a defender and into the back of the net.
With a three-goal lead in the first half, the UAE completed the comeback eight minutes into the second half when Al Ghassani played a one-two with Nader before calmly slotting into the corner of the net. Costa Rica narrowly escaped defeat with a 19th-minute goal from Cascante.
For Bento, who took over as UAE coach in July, this was his first game in charge of Costa Rica, a team that had just beaten Saudi Arabia 3-1 on Sept. 9. With a largely unchanged starting lineup from the Saudi Arabia game, Bento’s first game in charge saw the team put on a four-goal fireworks display to secure a comfortable victory.
In contrast, Klinsmann’s side went five games without a win before bouncing back with a 1-0 victory over the Saudis at the sixth attempt.
Since his appointment in March, Klinsmann’s record has been a dismal three draws and two losses, including two A matches in March, two A matches in June, and his first A match in September against Wales. He was the first foreign coach in history to fail to win his first five games in charge.
The team also suffered from a goal drought during this period. There was no fiery attacking football. The most prolific game was against Colombia on his debut, where Son Heung-min scored twice to draw 2-2. The team then scored one goal against Uruguay, a goalless draw against Peru, and only one against El Salvador, a team ranked 75th in the FIFA rankings that lost to Japan by six goals. He was also scoreless against Wales, taking his tally to four goals in five games.
Bento, on the other hand, got his first win much quicker than Klinsmann. He scored four goals on his debut, catching up to Klinsmann’s tally of five in just one game.
Costa Rica was no underdog to the UAE. Costa Rica is ranked 46th in the FIFA rankings, while the UAE is 72nd, a whopping 26 spots higher. However, Bento’s fiery brand of attacking soccer overwhelmed Costa Rica.
When he was appointed UAE coach in July, Bento said: “We have important competitions ahead. The Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup North America start in November. Next January we have the Asian Cup. Our aspirations are very high,” he said, adding that like Klinsmann, he wants to win the Asian Cup.
“We will try to identify the players correctly. I will emphasize that the selection criteria will be based solely on performance and attitude. Age doesn’t matter,” he said, adding that “winning matches is what makes the fans happy.” And the players Bento called up put in a fantastic performance to defeat Costa Rica.
The contrast with Klinsmann, who said he would “travel around the K League and observe the players firsthand,” was that he used players like Ahn Hyun-beom, Hwang In-beom, and Hong Hyun-seok in different positions and roles than they had played in their respective clubs and failed to get results.
Fans have expressed their disappointment that Klinsmann hasn’t kept his promise to stay in Korea, which was a condition of his appointment, and has been traveling abroad and working from home.
Klinsmann later said, “It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that I don’t live in Korea. Regardless of where I’m physically located, I think the way I communicate and observe players is different now than it used to be,” he said in response to the work-from-home controversy, but the criticism didn’t abate, and Klinsmann returned to the A-match in September under intense fan scrutiny.
However, despite his claims of being a workaholic, the Korean national team’s performance against Wales failed to rebound and the criticism intensified. The team managed a narrow win against Saudi Arabia, but there were still question marks over their performance. After six games in six months, Klinsmann still hasn’t been able to identify his squad and create a complete team 메이저놀이터.
Bento has only just finished his first game, so we’ll have to wait and see. However, based on this match alone, Ventura’s UAE was faster and stronger than Klinsmann’s South Korea.