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U20 Soccer Coach Hong Says Results Are Everything

Posted September. 10, 2009 08:27,   


Former soccer international Hong Myung-bo, 40, is nicknamed the “eternal libero.”

Now the coach of the national under-20 team, he is best remembered for clinching Korea’s semifinal berth in the 2002 World Cup with a goal in the penalty shootout against Spain.

Hong is oftentimes called “player Hong Myung-bo” since the Korean public remembers him as a player rather than a coach. Having retired from playing, the former defender is taking on the challenge of coaching.

He will lead the U20 team to the World Youth Soccer Championship in Egypt from Sept. 24.

○ Thorough preparation key to winning streak

Hong had an outstanding career as a player, recognized as a standout defender both at home and abroad. After retiring from playing in 2004, he was an assistant coach for Korea’s World Cup and Olympic teams and studied soccer administration, including an elite course.

He said thorough preparation allowed him to achieve. “I deeply agonized over my future thinking I can never know what will happen. I thought about life after retirement following the (2002) World Cup. I had no choice but to study aggressively,” he said.

He said he has had both advantages and disadvantages due to his stardom as a player. He said his stellar career helped him to become U20 coach, but that he will be criticized twice as much if his results are unsuccessful.

○ Proving himself through results

Hong turned down coaching positions from both Korean and Japanese pro teams last year to take over the U20 team instead. “I thought it would be a rare opportunity for me to take responsibility for younger players who will determine the future of Korean soccer. I wanted to inherit know-how and skills that I learned in the U.S. and Japan,” he said.

A challenge he faces is releasing two players to make the 21-man roster for the upcoming tournament.

He has shown decisiveness as far as his team’s performance is concerned, however. “Results are most important,” he said, noting that his efforts will mean nothing if his team loses. He thus indicated that he will be recognized as a good leader only if Korea performs well.

○ Charity as a source of power

Hong said he still has many things to do. He realized his dream as a player but is a beginner coach.

So does he aspire to be the coach of the national team? He sidestepped the question, saying, “Things are still in progress for me,” adding, “I think World Cup coach is the highest honor for a soccer leader. I must undergo intense competition. To assume the coaching post, I need more experience and preparation.”

Hong said he has no particular hobbies, but mentioned his love of running the Hong Myung-bo Scholarship Foundation. “I gave just a little through the foundation but I’ve still benefited more than I’ve given. Even if I end my soccer career, I will continue my charitable activities.”

“As a leader, I will try harder to generate the best moment from now on.”