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Coach Hong Myong-bo Stresses Teamwork

Posted November. 19, 2005 08:21,   


Hong Myong-bo (36), the “eternal libero,” transformed himself into one of Korean national team’s most important coaches in September.

“Physically, it is easier to sit on the bench than being out there on the field. But when we were playing against Iran and Sweden, I panicked because I could not see the movement of players in the field from the bench at all,” says Hong. “Later, manager Dick Advocaat and head coach Pim Verbeek advised me on how to see the game from the bench. Finally, in the match against Serbia-Montenegro, I was able to see how the players are doing out on the field.”

After joining Advocaat’s coaching staff, he has been playing the role of a big brother who wraps his arm around young players who make a mistake and says: “Nice try.”

Coach Hong, who assisted Advocaat in three of the national team’s evaluation matches, gave an interview a day after Serbia-Montenegro game.

“I remember from my past experience as a football player, how coaches can encourage the players and put them at ease. I try to do just that.”

Hong sees the importance in paying close attention to the youngest and oldest players of the team. Nervous younger players do not easily adapt to the national team, and older players suffer from the stress that younger players might replace them.

Hong also recognizes the need for maintaining a harmonious relationship between star players and those with less ability. He knows that otherwise, the squad’s teamwork will suffer.

“Manager Advocaat holds these players in high esteem. He is impressed by the players’ ability to use both feet, and how they work tirelessly. He understands his players well. His ability to analyze each player’s strengths and weaknesses and prescribe a solution is impressive. It makes me very hopeful.” said Hong.

Hong joined the national team somewhat involuntarily. Hong was planning to enroll in Koryo University’s PhD program and continue his study.

“Coach Verbeek called me and offered me the position. I was reluctant at first, because I was planning to study football administration. But as a 10-year national team veteran who received much love from fans, I felt responsible.” Hong also relays the players’ conditions and moods to the manager before and after the game. They have a variety of discussions in the process. Hong thinks it is an important opportunity to observe how an internationally renowned leader shapes the Korean team into a powerhouse.

In the meantime, Hong is also scheduled to host the national team’s third charity football match for pediatric cancer patients and needy children on December 18 in Suwon World Cup stadium. Corporate sponsors are ready, but the event is having trouble finding broadcast coverage.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com