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Huh`s Positivity to Face Maradona`s Brotherly Love

Posted June. 15, 2010 13:44,   


Korea soccer coach Huh Jung-moo and Argentinean counterpart Diego Maradona faced each other as players in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Twenty-four years later, they compete against each other again, this time as coaches.

Korea plays its second Group B game versus Argentina at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg Thursday, with the winner likely to win the group. The two coaches are also employing different methods of command in leading their respective teams.

○ Huh: Communication and positive leadership

When Huh, 55, took over the Korean team for the third time in December 2007, his appointment attracted more fears than expectations. Like his nickname “Jindo,” an indigenous Korean dog breed, he was famous for stubbornness and insistence on doing it his way.

A thoroughly controlling leader, he was named coach of the men’s Olympic and national teams in 1998, but resigned after poor results in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics and the Asian Cup.

Even after becoming national team coach, he kept his style intact and managed as he had always done. He sometimes acted authoritatively and when this did not work, he did a 180 and emphasized communication, positivity and team harmony.

Since Park Ji-sung (Manchester United) became team captain, Huh has often talked with his star to learn of and reflect the players’ needs in his approach. Huh chose communication over command and gave players time to talk freely among themselves.

Defender Lee Young-pyo (Al Hilal) said, “Coach Huh began encouraging conversation among players when we went for training camp in Austria. With only two or three gathering together, there are free discussions over ideas about plays.”

The books Huh is reading also reflect the change in his style. While training in South Africa in January, he imbued players with positive thinking after reading the Korean book “Positivity Creates a Masterpiece.”

At training camp in Austria, he read about friendly leadership in “Warm Charisma,” another Korean book. Communication and positivity have enabled good teamwork with the Taegeuk Warriors.

○ Maradona: Brotherly leadership

Maradona, 50, took over Argentina in October 2008, a year later than Huh did. Though he is an icon of the sport, this is his first stint as a coach.

He selected some 100 players playing professionally both at home and abroad and worked with passion, but saw poor results. In the South American qualifying round for the World Cup, Argentina finished fourth with eight wins, four ties and six defeats to just barely qualify.

This invited heavy criticism over his coaching ability. He also became gossip fodder for inappropriate behavior, including hitting a reporter.

Despite the controversy, the Maradona-led Argentines beat Nigeria, 1-0, in their opening Group B game. Criticism of his coaching suddenly disappeared and the normally individualistic Argentinean players united under his leadership. He approached players with friendliness not as a coach but as a brother.

In South Africa, Maradona has never stopped walking or running in practice. When a player scores in a scrimmage, the coach applauds and hugs him. He also plays referee and wears a whistle. When players want a drink, he rushes to the ice box and brings them drinks.

When players practice free kicks, Maradona gives an example. After training, he hugs each player and gives words of encouragement.

In short, his passion and friendliness have united the Argentinean players.