Soccer-World-Portugal's Bento has chance to erase unhappy memories

LISBON, April 30 (Reuters) - Portugal coach Paulo Bento will have a chance to wipe out unhappy World Cup memories when he leads his side in Brazil. Bento played for Portugal in the 2002 World Cup when they were eliminated in the group stage after a poor campaign and the 1-0 defeat by South Korea turned out to be the last of his 35 international appearances. Twelve years later, Bento returns to the World Cup stage, having steered Portugal clear of turbulent waters. The former Sporting coach took over a disgruntled squad in September 2010 after an awful start to their European Championship qualification campaign, having been pulled out of the hat by the Portuguese federation after Jose Mourinho rejected its approaches. Bento quickly brought order, winning his first five matches in charge, and kept control of the dressing-room despite public fallouts with Ricardo Carvalho and Jose Bosingwa, who both quit the side. They went on to perform surprisingly well at Euro 2012, reaching the semi-finals where they lost to Spain in a penalty shootout. As might be expected for a former holding midfielder, his teams tend to be pragmatic and tactically aware although Bento has managed to shed a reputation he earned at Sporting Lisbon for being over-defensive. At Euro 2012, Bento responded to the lack of an obvious playmaker by fielding a midfield triangle of Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso. The trio were able to unleash the talent of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on the wings, turning Portugal into one of the most entertaining teams at the tournament. He has a reputation for being a disciplinarian, although his own playing career was marred by a six-month international ban for his aggressive behaviour towards the referee during Portugal's Euro 2000 semi-final exit. Bento has developed the habit prevalent among many Portuguese coaches of finding long-winded ways of stating the obvious. He invariably describes his team's mood as "tranquil" and is at pains to point out that the team comes first and there are no easy opponents. "My footballing philosophy is simply to try and play well and win games. Whichever team plays better has more chance of winning the match," he told in a recent interview. "We'll be aiming and trying to go as far as we possibly can. What we'll strive for is getting to the round of 16 and, from that point on, trying to knock out one opponent at a time." (Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Josh Reich)