Around the World Cup in Brazil / KNT’s search for a new manager (update 2.0)

Let’s get sidetracked for a moment about the KNT’s future. Looking back at Brazil 2014, the whole experience wasn’t all doom and gloom. Take for instance the 1st game against Russia (despite the draw, should’ve been a 3 point win). Beyond that, Korean supporters represented in Brazil, and everyone there were in for a hella party, with one of the world’s most beautiful nations as a backdrop. Raymond An from the DC area filmed this visual montage and captured a bit of what it was like to be there for the games and to experience the brilliant culture there.

We’ll be talking with Raymond later to share a bit more about his take on what it was like to be down there with other Korean supporters in Brazil.  Thanks to Raymond for sharing that with the Tavern!  Time for the Tavern owner to start saving money to go to Brazil…someday…

Kickaround time: Some candidates have now emerged as the KFA has to quickly find a replacement for Hong Myong-Bo, who stepped down as KNT boss. With the Asian Games (in September!) and the Asian Cup (in January!) just around the corner, there’s practically no time to spare in the hunt.

Might I add – I know there isn’t consensus about Hong Myong-Bo around the Korean diaspora, but did the anti-Hong folks in Korea shoot themselves in the foot here?  There’s no one thing that made Hong decide to step down, but netizens along with some Korean media muckracking (that would put Fox News to shame) probably frustrated Hong enough to resign over what some may consider non-controversies.  What non-controversies you might ask?  How about the media bringing up the fact Hong tried to buy an apartment in May. As manufactured scandals go, this one is weak. Here’s another: having a party with the players after the Belgium game. Outrageous, you might yell if you’re inclined to throw yeots any given day.  How dare the team smile, drink and eat after bringing shame on the nation?  They should be crawling and groveling and have their heads literally hanging low, a couple of inches would do, to show proper regret for their performance. And if you believe that sentiment makes any sense, I have a sure fire business proposition for you involving factories and low wage labor based in North Korea. You just can’t lose!  What? I’m not crossing my fingers behind my back…

Whether you liked Hong or not, the manner and timing of his resignation may ultimately prove counter-productive given the Asian cup is several months away. More immediately there’s 2 friendlies just scheduled in South America in September against Venezula September 5 and possibly Uruguay on September 9th. [*originally I went on a rant thinking the senior NT is involved with the Asian games. Jae reminded me it’s a U23/hybrid team like an Olympic squad eligible to play and possibly win a coveted Gold medal. Why is Gold important? Scroll to the very end of the post…]

Looking ahead to January, John Duerden wrote in the Guardian that the Asian teams failures in the World Cup could prove to be beneficial to building up excitement for the Asian Cup.

So who are the lucky contestants (so far) for the next KNT coach, one who may have  questionable support from the KFA and a uber-nationalistic public that doesn’t go to K-League games but care more about KNT results and image rather than a proper building of a football program?

Step right up Contestant #1: Kim Ho-Gon, Ulsan Horangi manager who oversaw the club win the Asian title in 2012 with Kim Shin-Wook and Lee Keun-Ho leading the charge. Arirang suspects he may take the temporary or permanent key.

Kim Ho-Gon

Contestant #2:

For more on that, Yonhap news‘s Yoo Jee-ho got the skinny. In his article, Schjonberg is described as a ‘relatively unknown’ but apparently had been sought after by both Japan (which sacked Zaccheroni last month) and Korea.

Michael Schjonberg

Contestant #3: Lee Yong-Soo, TV analyst, founding member of FC Seoul, ex Pohang player (Tavern owner: North Korean factory offer still on the table…)

will the real Lee Young-Soo please stand up? (he’s to the left)

Contestant #3: Hwang Sun-Hong, Pohang Steelers manager. Pohang currently tops the K-League Classic table and won the double last year (K-League title and FA Cup). As a player, he opened the scoring for Korea against Poland in the 2002 World Cup. Not the best nor worst candidate, but given the ‘poisoned chalice’ hot potato that is the KNT managerial position, he might not want it.

Hwang Sun-Hong

Contestant #4: Jung Hae-seong, head of the KFA referee’s committee and ex-Chunnam Dragons manager.


wait…where have I seen him before?  That film Shaolin Soccer maybe…

Yat Fei Wong in Shaolin Soccer

Contestant #5:

Contestant #6: Not officially floated on KFA’s radar, but an anonymous Tavern goer suggests ex USMNT & ex Egypt boss Bob Bradley. Here’s his rationale: “The KFA is in utter chaos following a humiliating showing at the 2014 World Cup, leading to resignations of Hong Myung-Bo, and two top officials.  Much of the poor performance can be attributed to the discontinuity and lack of international experience brought upon by having 3 different managers during the past World Cup cycle. I believe that the right man for the job is Bob Bradley. He most recently ended his term coaching the Egyptian national team following elimination from the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, (chronicled in a recently aired PBS documentary “American Pharaoh.”)  Hired in 2011 at a time of great political upheaval, what struck me was how his commitment to the team never wavered through the entire World Cup cycle despite the surrounding violence (including a deadly soccer riot in Port Said Stadium and the burning down of the Egyptian football headquarters in Cairo.) He came across as a man of great character and intelligence, Korean football could benefit greatly from his international experience, having guided the USMNT to the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup with arguably a lesser talented team than this year’s US squad. He would be the right person to bring stability to the KFA and guide the KNT through the next cycle.”

Bob Bradley

    Update 7/23/14 > not sure of the veracity of the claims but here’s some other rumoured candidates:

Not on the KNT radar (yet) ex Vancouver Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie will be hired as Seoul/Eland’s coach. The team will join the 2nd division K-League in their first season. From initial indications, this team seems to have club management fundamentals going in the right directions that may set them apart from other K-League clubs. Martin Rennie was in charge of the Whitecaps when Lee Young-Pyo played his last and retired from professional football last December.

  Before moving on, last Hong resignation item, this from Yonhap news Yoo Jee-Ho:

This was in Hong’s resignation press conference response to charges of favoritism in players selections during the World Cup.  Let’s get a fuller context and go to Yoo’s original article from the press conference: Hong said he agonized over what to do with talented players who were confined to the bench in Europe and with players who were playing on a regular basis at home but clearly had less talent. “When evaluating all the K League Classic players, I felt those based in Europe were better choices,” the outgoing coach said. “I’d say the top-rated South Korean players would be in the second tier in Europe. And the ones currently in the K League Classic are below that level.”   I’m going to disagree with Yoo, there’s nothing controversial really about Hong’s statement. If memory serves correct, K-Leaguers (and no European based players since it wasn’t an official FIFA break) were given ample opportunity to shine back in late December and early January for the KNT’s mini USA tour, facing Mexico, Costa Rica and the USMNT.  It was a disaster and unfortunately K-Leaguers were shown the door by the best the MLS and Liga MX offered. Back to Yoo’s article: Hong said the loss to Mexico made a huge impact on his roster decisions. “The key is to find the balance between skilled players who aren’t seeing action in foreign leagues and less gifted ones in the domestic league who are playing more frequently,” Hong said. “I think there are enough talented players in the pool, but getting them together to build a team is another matter.” A meaningless win over shockingly disparate C-squad Costa Rican team and the domestic experiment was over. Hong knew right then and there just how lacking in depth he had on hand going to the World Cup.  Any injuries from European based players, any setbacks, just like a mathematical equation -it could only equal a subpar KNT. And that’s just what happened. Korean Footballers Abroad had an accurate assessment of the KNT during the World Cup, factoring in overlooked items like Yun, Hong, PCY, Koo, Kimbo – all these essential elements getting uneven club minutes and/or injuries. Yet they represent Korea’s best. The solution?  Hard to say exactly, other than if you buy the notion that Japan technically performed better in the World Cup (even though they exited early like Korea), they have more players honing skills in Europe. It’s a sheer numbers game. Take a look at this interactive Washington Post site detailing World Cup teams and the leagues they belong to. Korea ranks not quite at the bottom for number of players in European top flight, but they aren’t too far from that (take note at Japan’s numbers and compare that with Korea’s). Players get injured, happens all the time. That’s the ironic dilemma for Korea, despite boasting a squad with the most in top flight European teams, they didn’t match the results from the last KNT World Cup squad. The risk that those critical players get injured or under-utilized increases the risk to the national team. There is however a possible threshold number that may better predict success. Look at the perennially consistent World Cup squads, they are stacked with players getting minutes in top flight Euro teams. That equals a better chance for a deeper squad despite the injuries, etc. Time to sound like a broken record: Japan does not have mandatory military conscription. Perhaps their trend towards right wing nationalism could have one positive effect…that is if they reinstate their military conscription program. Then it will be time for the Blue Samurais to start singing the Samurai Blues. Given the circumstance of North Korea as a volatile neighbor, it will probably be incredibly difficult to change the current paradigm. The other option: to dramatically improve the domestic K-League scene. Regardless of how many they can export abroad, for Korea to become a football international powerhouse, the domestic football landscape has to improve, period. That story of if or when that can happen is still unfolding, not to mention what to do about the sorry state of the near empty football stadiums and difficult to find TV broadcasts.  Sound dire but there is always the potential for a more positive trend (reminds me to look up Tim’s preview of K-League games this weekend). More on all that in our upcoming Blueprint for the Future series. Stay tuned…   Still here?  We’ve got some good news to report:

About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
The old Tavern Owner


    • respectfully disagree to a certain point. Kim Ho-Gon = waste of time. The TV announcer? Never heard of him. Choi Yong-Soo/Hwang sun-hong, maybe. If domestic that’s the best option. Never heard of the others, or know very little about them, except Bob Bradley. Man, if I had to pick from that list I’d pick him. He did a great job wirth Egypt imo. but the CAF qualification is/was messed up and Egypt drew Ghana while Burkina Faso and Algeria played. And no disrespect to Algeria, you’d think I’d have stopped after the World Cup, but at that time before we saw how they kind of destroyed us, BF v ALG was the waaay easier tie compared to GHA-EGY.

        • He’s American? (Forgot…) Um. I mean. How dare Bob Bradley’s name be thrown around? How dare he even be considered for the position? Shame on him! He’s trying to tour the world with the Korean national team on friendlies but he’s really a spy looking to ignite wars and capture oil fields! Soon they’ll target our oil sands in Alberta! And our water in the Hudson Bay to solve California’s problems! See! We’re next! Canada’s next! Imperialists!

          A little over the top…

          All joking aside I think he (Bob Bradley)’d be a great manager. His credentials are solid too. But the likelihood of that happening? I mean Canada’s more likely to beat America in a war.

          Alright I’ll drop the imperialist narrative now. Jae got me all riled up. Somehow. Mianhaeyo.

          P.S. But I mean I was watching Fox’s coverage of the MLB All-Star Game (Sports channels in Canada so expensive…) and they played a skin care commercial during the Canadian anthem! Disrespectful sons of guns! GUNS.

          I really gotta stop. I’ll… just leave now. Over-the-top. Sorry.

      • Please … No to Bob Bradley. He did a decent job in Egypt, better than he had any expectation to, and he seems to be overall high-character decent chap. But if you want unimaginative tactics, an inability to assess and adapt gameplans, a lack of vision, poor technical coaching, low teamwork among the players, poor player motivation, minimal scouting ability, a general lack of proactivity, and really a sense of no direction for your program, then you want Bob Bradley.

        Remember how the USA used to play? They’re hardly dynamos now, but under Bradley, they were the ultimate devotees
        bus-parking. He played defense, and that was it. And not very well – defense was very lacking in cohesion, would be cracked by the simplest of tactics. Tim Howard was really the only reason why Bradley kept his job so long.

        Bradley seems like a good guy, and he can train up a team to play decent, conventional defensive tactics. And his personality is one that’s stabilizing in a crisis. I imagine that’s what made him ideal in Egypt. But that’s his ceiling. He can’t be more than that.

  1. I have to disagree with you Roy on a few points.

    1. The Asian Games has nothing to do with Hong. Remember it’s a U23 tournament so it’ll be led by Lee Gwang-Jong. Park Joo-Ho is a poor example as he still didn’t feature for NT even though he had the best season of his career thus far.

    2. Speculating about the next NT boss, while fun/painful, is fairly pointless at this point as the technical committee will be “reformed” prior to any hiring. Hwangbo Kwan hasn’t even officially left yet, and he’ll need to be replaced first. I’d say that to an extent, his replacement is just as important as the NT coach replacement.

    3. I’ll defend the K League here. No, it’s not a great league, and yes it has it’s shortcomings. But basing an assessment purely on the US tour is stupid. You’re talking about a group of players who have largely not played with each other in the middle of their offseason (K League ended in Nov). Not every player that played then deserved to go to Brazil sure, but you can’t look at those 3 games in isolation and junk them all.

    4. Hong’s comments are controversial simply because of his status and the way he phrased it. If Hong wanted to make a statement about the level of the league then he needs to play the political game and be better with his phrasing (more along the lines of how Park JS, Lee YP, Cha DR).

      • It’s not about sugarcoating things. It’s about doing things in a way that maximizes any potential future benefits. Nothing good came from Hong saying that, and if anything it just made feelings towards him more negative. It also wasn’t helpful because the players he thought were better, players like Park Chu-Young, Koo Ja-Cheol, Kim Bo-Kyung, and Yoon Suk-Young, ended up being playing pretty poorly. If Hong wants to improve the league then he needs be smarter than publicly saying he didn’t pick players from it because they’re essentially a third rate bunch.

        • to be fair, he was calling them a second rate bunch… lol. i understand being political and saying things in a way that maximizes future benefits, but roy’s spot on. there really should be no criticism for hong in his ACCURATE assessment, especially considering, he said it after the fact. i might have more of a problem if he said it leading up to the world cup, but he didn’t say that to my knowledge. furthermore, there’s really no problem making assessments based on that US tour. it’s not as if all the other national teams’ b teams and c teams were playing together all the time, and they were in the middle of their own domestic seasons as well. there’s nothing strange about hong’s comments, except that he actually said the truth publicly. in fact, hong made the point i’ve been making repeatedly when it came to pjy. bringing pjy has nothing to do with favoritism and anyone that seriously thinks hmb is that severely biased is deluding themselves a bit if not a lot. even after his poor showing i still would defy anyone to remotely consider any other striker deserved to be going in place of him. it’s an absolute joke to suggest anyone from the k-league that he didn’t already bring were good enough. now, if hong had time to work with some of them for a period of 3 years, sure i can understand that, but he had 1 year. when you have just 1 year, then that makes hmb’s comment all the more relevant and there should be nothing controversial about it. this is like that announcer that was whining about wilmot being ‘disrespectful.’ you know what? if the k-leage, kfa, korean netizens/citizens find that so controversial, i’m pretty sure the empty stadiums are more of an indictment than hong’s comments. it’s hypocrisy to hint at criticism for hong’s comments and zero criticism of fans who essentially believe the same thing, at least according to their non-existence in the stands.

    • 1. Woops, yr right, totally forgot it’s a u23/hybrid, I keep forgetting that. Time to massively edit.
      2. Yes, speculations of course, but I can only aggregate what names are being bandied about by Korean media at this point, other than inserting the Bradley name. Sequence is correct, they hire tech director who then works on getting the right coach, but I can only imagine the KFA is talking about certain possibilities behind tre scenes.
      3. What u taking about Willis? Gary coleman anyone? Yes I’m that old. Ok good point, yr right in that one or two results in isolation not indicative of the KLeague as a whole vs MLS or liga mx. However, I’ll go out on a limb that those players selected weren’t just slumming until late dec. if that was indeed the case, then the composite snapshot of KLeague vs MLS vs liga mx is apt, and certain Koreans in this case was found wanting. You’ll more likely agree that mid season form club like pohang going against, I don’t know, say Seattle or Monterray in a 2 legged affair would be a fairly accurate referendum on the leagues qualities. I’ll have to go back further to the last couple of FIFA club world cups where our KLeague Asian title winners went against the concacaf winners in the last couple of FIFA club world cups: the results show kleaguers consistently losing to (I think) the liga mx teams that have taken the last couple of concacaf titles. But if such a fixture takes place, I say we take a friendly wager on who would win. I would root for the KLeague team but my $ is on the other unfortunately. Fortunately I’ve been known to be wrong every now and then.
      4. I’ll take your word on that, but out of curiosity, do you happen to have an example of what pjs or LYP have said in making a point but crafting words to navigate sensitive Korean waters?

      • Really…. Im not getting this “say it nicely like these other guys did” stuff.

        When I think back to what each individual said, Im left with the same general feeling. Our team talent was never as good as was hyped so this is no surprise to me other than the time it took for this to come full circle.

        I generally agree with what Jae has to comment on but Im finding more and more that your stance is a bit softer than Id agree with (Hong’s statements and the Yeot incident).

        Im much more for having things said to your face the way you see it/feel it. I have no problem with what Hong had to say, albeit it does come off a bit of throwing people under the bus.

        • The bright side to these wonderful comments by Hong help to stem the hype train this team has been on for so long now. Some truth serum is needed sometimes…even if it hurts your feelings.

      • 4. In hindsight, point 4 is probably me mixing two points together. PJS/LYP/CDR are speaking more on how to improve the K League, while Hong is saying why he didn’t take K League players (and tearing the league down in the process). So, I’ll withdraw that complaint.

    • I am very curious as to why PJH never touched the pitch this tournament.

      I mean that was ridiculous. Im not even a fan of PJH and I thought he should’ve been given at least a few minutes. Its not like LYP was playing this time around.

      I just found that whole thing to be mighty peculiar.

      • A) He was still carrying that foot injury
        B) Hong didn’t think there was enough time to fit him into the backline
        C) Hong has a bias towards Yoon Suk-Young
        D) Hong doesn’t rate Park Joo-Ho and took him only because he had too

        Take your pick or mix and match

Join in the Tavern's conversations -Leave a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.