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Soccer team headed by Coach Hong Myung-bo returns home

Posted July. 01, 2014 07:56,   


Hong Myung-bo, 45, the national team coach, is a Korean soccer legend who even appeared on the “National Anthem airing” that signals the daily conclusion of national TV networks’ regular programming. The national anthem session on TV would feature him in all smiles with his arms widely open after scoring a goal as the final kicker in the penalty shootout of a quarterfinal match against Spain at the 2002 World Cup Korea-Japan. When introducing Korean soccer ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA included Hong as three "big stars "along with Cha Bum-kun and Park Ji-sung.

However Coach Hong has made an apology to Korean soccer fans, repeatedly saying "reflection," "being sorry," and "lack of capabilities." The Korean national team aimed to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in a World Cup overseas this year, but only displayed the poor record of failing to advance to the round of the best 16 teams. Upon arriving at Incheon International Airport on Monday, Hong said, “I am very sorry for failing to meet people’s expectations. We failed to succeed due to my insufficient capacities.”

Soon after Korea was disqualified for the round of 16 after losing 0-1 in the third and final Group H match against Belgium last Friday, Hong said, “Players did their best. The most incompetent was me, the coach,” trying to take full responsibility for premature elimination of Team Korea. Hong has often said, “After sufferings pass by, they will become memories one day in the future,” and he is apparently undergoing such sufferings right now.

On his future course of action, Hong declined giving direct answers. He said, “I cannot talk about (my plan on whether to resign) here. Personally, I have thought to myself, but I cannot make a decision right now. I will think it over and make the best decision.”

Hong signed a two-year contract when he took over national team leadership from Coach Choi Kang-hee in June last year. If he is to follow the contract, he should also lead the national team for the Asian Cup Championships in January 2015. Hong said, “I am still not thinking about that (Asian Cup). I should deeply reflect upon things that I lacked at this year’s World Cup. I will make right judgment.” Son Heung-min, the youngest player of the team, said, “When only considering results, we have no excuse to make. I feel responsibility for failing to deliver good results.”

Members of an Internet soccer community, holding a banner reading “Condolences, Korean soccer passed away,” threw traditional pumpkin malt candies at the national team to express discontent.