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Posted : 2013-06-24 17:05
Updated : 2013-06-24 17:05

Hong to lead World Cup football team

By Kim Tong-hyung

Hong Myung-bo
The Korea Football Association (KFA) named Hong Myung-bo as the new manager of the men's senior national team, Monday, as it prepares for next year's World Cup finals.

Hong, 44, a legend as a player and manager of Korea's Olympic squad that won the bronze in the London Olympic Games, inherits a struggling team in need of fixing. The Taeguk Warriors have sank steadily into mediocrity in the past year under the helm of Choi Kang-hee, whose legacy as Korea's coach will be defined by poor play, blown leads, and unfulfilled guarantees.

Despite an uninspiring qualifying campaign, Korea managed to stumble into a spot in Brazil, edging regional rivals Uzbekistan by a single point on goal difference after Group A play.

Choi stepped down last week after Korea's 1-0 loss to Iran at home in its final qualifying match. Hong now has less than a year to make Korea looking like a team that truly deserves to be on world sport's biggest stage.

While the KFA did review three other candidates, Hong had been pegged as the front-runner from the beginning of the coach hunt.

''As a strategist, Hong favorably compares to anyone who is out there, including foreign coaches,'' said Huh Jung-moo, the KFA vice chairman, in a news conference at the Paju National Football Center in Gyeonggi Province, shortly after KFA senior officials met and agreed on Hong as Choi's replacement.

''We are committed to Hong for the long run. We have hired foreign coaches before and most of them left after one-off campaigns. This is no longer the direction Korean football is willing to take. In the meeting, the support for Hong was near-unanimous.''

There was deep disappointment over Choi's failure to coax his team into play larger than the sum of its parts, particularly because the parts had previously triggered the talk of a new golden generation in Korean football.

The KFA's priority was to find a coach to inspire its promising youngsters, including the Bundesliga trio of Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-cheol and Ji-Dong-won, who engineered the country's impressive run at the London Olympics and are now expected to be the core of the senior squad. And there wasn't a more obvious candidate than Hong, the Olympic coach himself.

Hong's first test will come in the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) East Asian Cup tournament at home next month, which invites Japan, Australia and China to play for regional bragging rights. There are also a number of international friendlies scheduled between August and November.

Hong, considered one of the best defenders Asia has ever produced, played in nearly 140 matches for his country from 1990 to 2002, a span that included four World Cup appearances and an Olympic tournament. His composure and ability to anticipate plays at the backline earned him the nickname as the ''Korean Paolo Maldini'' and he was also known for a thunderbolt right-foot that was dangerous in dead-ball situations.

Hong began his coaching career as an assistant on the senior national team from 2005 to 2007, and then on the under-23 squad from 2007 to 2008.

In 2009, Hong led the under-20 squad to the quarterfinals at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, a year before he led the under-23 team to a bronze medal at the Guangzhou Asian Games.

The bronze-medal run at last year's Olympics has so far been the feather in Hong's coaching cap. The KFA is now hoping that Hong can produce similar results at the senior level.

관련 한글 기사

축구대표팀 사령탑에 홍명보 감독 선임

홍명보(44) 감독이 8회 연속 월드컵 본선 진출에 성공한 축구 대표팀의 새로운 사령탑으로 선임됐다.

    대한축구협회는 24일 경기도 파주NFC(대표팀트레이닝센터)에서 회장단 회의를 열어 기술위원회가 추천한 4명의 사령탑 후보 가운데 홍명보 감독을 차기 감독으로 확정했다.

    이날 오후 미국 로스앤젤레스에서 귀국하는 홍명보 감독은 25일 공식 기자회견을 열어 대표팀 운영에 대한 청사진을 밝힐 예정이다.

    축구협회는 지난 19일 기술위원회를 통해 홍 감독을 포함한 4명의 후보군을 압축하고 세부 조율에 들어갔고, 결국 홍 감독을 차기 대표팀 감독으로 결정했다.

    '영원한 리베로'라는 별명으로 유명한 홍 감독은 2002년 한·일 월드컵 당시 대표팀의 주장이자 중앙 수비수로 한국 축구의 4강 진출을 이끄는 데 큰 역할을 담당했다.

    2006년 독일 월드컵을 앞두고 '아드보카트호(號)'의 코치로 합류하면서 지도자 수업에 본격적으로 나선 홍 감독은 2009년 국제축구연맹(FIFA) U-20 월드컵에서 8강에 진출하며 성공적인 사령탑 데뷔전을 치렀다.

    홍 감독은 2010년 광저우 아시안게임에 U-23 대표팀을 이끌고 동메달을 목에 걸었고, 2012년 런던 올림픽에서 한국 축구 사상 첫 동메달 획득의 쾌거를 달성하며 '차세대 지도자'로 인정받았다.

    특히 홍 감독은 런던올림픽에서 동메달을 주도한 박주영(셀타 비고), 기성용(스완지시티), 구자철(아우크스부르크), 윤석영(퀸스파크 레인저스), 김창수(가시와), 신광훈(포항), 김기희(알 샤일라) 등이 성인 대표팀의 주축으로 활약하면서 일찌감치 차기 대표팀 사령탑 물망에 올랐다.

    그는 2012년 런던올림픽을 끝내고 차기 성인 대표팀 감독으로 강력하게 추천을 받았지만 '아직 때가 이르다'는 뜻을 내비치며 고사하고 지난 1월 거스 히딩크 감독이 이끄는 안지 마하치칼라(러시아)로 지도자 연수를 떠났다.

    홍 감독은 축구협회의 설득 끝에 2014년 브라질 월드컵에서 한국 축구의 사상 첫 원정 8강 진출의 꿈을 달성할 지도자로 나서게 됐다.

    이날 대표팀 사령탑으로 선임된 홍 감독은 내달 20일 개막하는 동아시아연맹(EAFF) 선수권대회부터 본격적으로 지휘봉을 잡는다.



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