Penalties can be the cruellest way for a campaign to end but, when the disappointment subsides for Japan and the rest of Asia's contingent and the postmortem examination begins, there can be a sense of satisfaction. Neither Japan nor South Korea will be entirely happy their hopes ended in the first phase of the knockout rounds, with the Japanese in particular squandering an opportunity to go deeper into the tournament against a limited Paraguay. But on reflection they will come to realise that, particularly in the light of their troubled build-up, Japan have performed at a level far beyond what was expected. South Korea's progress to the second round was anticipated, such was their form leading into the competition; coach Huh Jung-moo had toiled diligently over the preceding 21/2 years to build a side capable of matching his country's lofty expectations. No one knows better the pressure that rests on the shoulders of the South Korean national team boss than Huh, who had previous experience of the post before qualifying his country for South Africa. It was Huh, who preceded the now eternally lauded Guus Hiddink, losing the honour of leading his country at the 2002 World Cup finals following a disappointing performance at the Asian Cup finals in Lebanon in 2000. With his confidence battered, the former PSV Eindhoven midfielder spent time rebuilding his reputation on the domestic scene by succeeding with Chunnam Dragons in the K-League and, ultimately, returning to the national team set-up. Huh was the first Korean coach to lead the national team on a long-term contract since Cha Bum-kun took the nation to the 1998 World Cup finals and he showed he had learned significant lessons since his first stint in charge. Much the same could be said for Takeshi Okada, who looked in danger of throwing away the potential of his Japan team in the build-up to the tournament, only to spectacularly turn performances around upon the team's arrival in South Africa. Okada - like Huh - was in his second spell as Japan coach having previously taken the country to their first-ever World Cup finals in France in 1998, where the Japanese lost all three matches. Twelve years, though, has seen Okada - a man who habitually shuns the limelight - develop and improve as a coach, and his ability to adapt and analyse his team's positive and negative points enabled him to turn the team around at just the right moment. For South Korea and Japan, this was the first time both nations had qualified for the knockout phase on foreign soil and it was fitting, too, that they did so with coaches from their own countries sitting on the bench. The two countries have, in recent years, employed a string of foreign coaches with differing levels of success. Hiddink's achievements with South Korea are the stuff of legend, while Philippe Troussier's accomplishments with Japan led to the development of one of the finest generations of players ever seen in the Asian game. Others, though, have not been so auspicious: Zico failed to harness Japan's potential and build on the work done by Troussier, while Humberto Coelho and Jo Bonfrere fell far short of the standards set by Hiddink in South Korea. Under Dick Advocaat, meanwhile, the South Koreans were treading water. With that kind of background, it was to be expected that the soccer federations in both Japan and South Korea chose to appoint local coaches. After the lukewarm performances of many of the foreigners, a different approach could do little harm. There are, of course, numerous advantages to going local, especially - as is the case with both Huh and Okada - when that coach has an abundance of experience. 'I think with a Japanese coach we can communicate directly and I think it's an advantage for the Japanese team, but it's case-by-case I think,' Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said. 'If we have a good foreign coach it can be okay. Okada has a Japanese mentality and that made us play like a Japanese team.' Both Okada and Huh now look set to depart from their respective posts, with Huh likely to either return to working at his own academy or to take up a senior post within the KFA. Okada said he wants to buy a farm and while away the hours working in his fields or reading. The JFA, however, has other plans and will offer him the opportunity to stay on. Assuming neither coach can be convinced to remain at the helm of their respective teams, federation officials will have to begin the hunt for replacements. Hong Myung-bo, one of the finest players in the history of not only South Korean soccer but also of the Asian game, has been linked with the post and his status will certainly see him afforded the required respect. For Japan, the choice is less clear-cut. No other active Japanese manager has Okada's experience, success or profile. Gamba Osaka's Akira Nishino, who won the Asian Champions League title in 2008, could be a candidate but otherwise the JFA may be ready to go foreign once again.