Posted June. 19, 2014 06:20,
"I believed that it was the right timing."
Hong Myung-bo, the head coach of the South Korean national soccer squad, made an acceptable official debut Wednesday with his timely replacement of players in the Group H match against Russia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Hong called in striker Park Chu-young in the 66th minute, replacing him with Lee Keun-ho. Pushing Lee`s back, the coach told the substitute to be implement "aggressive offence" as Hong expected Russian defenders in the midfield would lose strength and speed. Lee scored the first goal just 12 minutes after getting on the field. Hong`s tactics worked.
In an evaluation match against Croatia in September last year, Hong also replaced Koo Ja-cheol with Lee in the 77th minute. Although the Korean team lost 1-2, Lee scored the goal in overtime. "Park Chu-young played a good role in defense in the first half," Hong said. "I kept watching him and decided that it was time to put Lee in his place."
The timely replacement has subdued strong criticisms about the national squad`s continued poor performances in evaluation matches before the opening of the World Cup. Team Korea lost 0-1 to Tunisia on May 28, before being humiliated by Ghana 0-4 on June 10. The coach came under a barrage of criticisms from disappointed Korean fans.
However, an undaunted Hong led the national team the way he had planned to, saying, "Evaluations are just evaluations. Everything is tuned to the World Cup finals." Criticisms do not shake Hong, who often says that hard times will become good memories someday.
Although Team Korea failed to maintain the lead earned in the second half and blew what could have been Hong`s victory in his World Cup debut, the coach said, "(Players) should keep their heads high." Hong, as a coach, has never won the first game of major international championships. In 2009, Korea`s under-20 national soccer team lost 0-2 to Cameroon in the FIFA U20 World Cup held in Egypt. His team lost 0-1 to North Korea in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, and played Mexico to a 0-0 draw in the 2012 London Olympics. However, he led his team to the quarterfinals in the 2009 U20 World Cup and won bronze medals in the 2010 Asian Games and the 2012 Olympics. That is why Hong says, "The result of the match against Russia is not bad. We will become better."