The End of the KNT Dark Age

We qualified for the WC right yet there’s no reason to celebrate. When we have to rely on the results of Qatar and Uzbekistan… you know there’s a serious problem.

One look at the starting lineup was enough to guarantee a bad game. We had one midfielder and four strikers; it was clearly a “hoof the ball forward and hope it lucky-bounces into a player’s path” approach. No organization, no tactics, no discipline. When the game started it seemed as if we were dominating because Iran sat back and turtled. But CKH’s puzzling decision not to field a single creative midfielser (there was one MF on the entire pitch) started to become evident as we had no creativity at all, forcing us to have the center backs hoof the ball forward and rely heavily on wingers and fullbacks to create something.  Long ball after long ball didn’t work and on Iran’s one and only shot on target they scored. Mission accomplished for Quieroz. I was right about the lineup – CKH pretty much told players to hoof the ball forward for 90 minutes hoping we get lucky. We’re never going to score like that.

A great insight from msc43 over at BSK:

“What we have was a team that didn’t play to its strengths. All creativity we had was sitting on the bench or wasn’t present at all. Koo, KBK, and KSY had no presence in the last batch of WCQ. With no creativity, how do you expect us to get past teams that park the bus? Blasting the ball forward can only get us so far.The flaw was in management and personnel. Putting SHM in a hoofball system is going to bear no fruits. Lionel Messi wouldn’t enjoy a hoofball system; and yet this is how we planned to conquer Asia. LDG and LKH were horrendous to watch. Their lack of creativity and finishing made my eyes bleed. We had a foundation after the 2012 Olympics and we didn’t build on it. It’s more than disappointing, it’s downright shameful. The KNT has deserved better than what the KFA and CKH have given us. Edit: Longball can be a fine strategy if you have finishers. Case and point: PCY vs Japan in the Olympics. Perfect example of how longball wins you matches. LDG? Oh please. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.”


Koo Ja Cheol’s goal vs. Japan came the same way. The point is, KNT plays best with a passing game in possession (we have the players and technicians to do it), with the occasional long ball on the counter. We had a foundation after the Olympics. A centre midfielder who can orchestrate in Ki Sung Yong and a nice complement in Park Jong woo or Han Kook Young. A CAM with insane dribbling and ball retainment skills + a mean shot in Koo Ja Cheol. A creative attacking midfielder / winger in Kim Bo Kyung. Our most techincally gifted player and a direct, run-behind-the-defenders winger in Lee Chung Yong. A solid centre back in Kim Young Kwon; our hands down best defender (proven in Olympic qualifying and senior NT matches) in U23 captain Hong Jeong Ho who unfortunately missed the Olympics due to injury; a very promising left back in yoon Suk Young, who unfortunately made the idiotic decision of going to QPR to watch grass grow from the bench. Then theres our trusted striker PCY, and a 20 year old who scored 12 goals in the best league in the world, new Leverkusen boy Son Heung Min. Our players are also experiencing more success at the club level than ever before. The pieces are there, but with a crap manager who has no sense of…. anything.. not even the best players can shine.


As for Kim Young Kwon, nobody should be pointing fingers at him. It was a terrible mistake, but up until that he won aerial battles, distributed the ball efficiently, and read the game pretty well.Remember his heroics in the Olympics, and that even Hong Myung Bo himself made a similar mistake against Turkey in 2002. The 1-0 scoreline didn’t prevent us from going into the WC, and whether it ended 1-0 or 0-0, the game was still crap. I am pleased, however, that Jang Hyun Soo played well. For those of you who forgot he was pretty much the Hong Myung Bo of the 2009 U20 WC. Rock solid defending, penalty taking skills, and the #20 jersey. Even in an unfamiliar defensive midfield position (CKH you’re a moron) he played decently. Compared to the rest at least.


I am kinda glad we lost like this. Hopefully it was enough of a wakeup call for KFA (I guess the previous embarassments weren’t enough), and hopefully all notions of keeping CKH have been erased away. But knowing KFA, I wouldn’t be surprised if they mention the possibility, which seriously makes my blood boil. The loss also makes CKH leave with his reputation tarnished. There was a lot of tension before the game, with CKH vowing to make Iran watch the WC from TV, Son Heung min promising to make them shed tears of blood, etc. The team was pumped up, yet everything a manager could have done went wrong, and Carlos Quieroz pretty much made CKH eat his words and look like an idiot. His shortcomings – no tactics, no organization, no discipline, bad lineups, bad subs, being extremely formulaic, and sticking to LDG (who contributed absolutely nothing throught the qualification yet still played matches)- have been exposed and hopefully no future managers will repeat these mistakes.


Where do we go next? Well the Dark Age has come to an end. No more 34 year old strikers who have no business on the national team. No more policy of subbing out the best performers and keeping in the useless players. No more idiotic lineups and complete chaos and disarray.

Another insight from msc43:

“Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do. Cho Kwang Rae and Choi Kang Hee left us disorganized, undisciplined, and lacking stamina. Any incoming manager who takes over the KNT needs to address these issues as soon as possible. Stamina building and developing defensive cohesiveness is a necessity. This KNT is so gifted and technically talented that defending has become useless to them. All I know is that the KFA has to get their shit together and hire the right manager. The right manager will pick the most talented personnel and get the best of their talents with the right system.”

Hong Myung Bo should not take the reins just yet. The next coach should be Senol Gunes. He knows much about Korean football having worked at Seoul with Lee Chung Yong Ki Sung Yong and Park Ju Young. He also established a wonderful passing game that would make Barcelona proud(seriously, watch the video of Gunes’s FC Seoul passing – it’s beautiful).


EDIT: right after I publish this and finish eating lunch I get news that HMB has already been appointed! Well. In that case HMB has the EAFF and some friendlies to get ready. Now that i think about it appointing HMB right now could have been better than Gunes. If anyone can fix the mess we are in right now in time for the WC it’s HMB with his 2012 experience with the NT core. Knowing him we can trust him to do a good job and ireally hope he stays until after the 2018 Russia WC. Long term managers are always the best, and remember that our current generation, which peaks in age in the 2018 cycle, was managed by HMB since their U20 days.

About Jinseok 260 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. Hey Jinseok, thanks for the article! Do you think choosing HMB over Senol Gunes was a good decision? HMB is great, but I feel that the decision was made a bit hastily.

    • I wouldnt say hasty. I dont think it was mere coincidence that HMBs tenure in Russia coincided with CKHs imminent departure.
      HMB vs Gunes was a huge dilemma I had. Whether HMB or Gunes would take the reins after CKH.
      The first priority was HMB managing 2018. The second priority was having a manager manage two world cups. HMB being manager right now actually fits those two criteria bettee. However, we will most likely miss out on Gunes altogether unless Gunes wants to manage us when hes 66 (after the 2018 WC).
      However I have no qualms – both are infinitely better than CKH.

  2. ig·no·min·y
    Public shame or disgrace.
    disgrace – shame – infamy – dishonour – dishonor

    Ignominy, a lasting image of the KNT under CKH -and the KFA decision that put him in charge. Dark era over. It’s HMB’s time (hopefully longterm -as you say). For me it’s soju time.

  3. Almost fearful of tarnishing HMB’s legend status here now. Man can either only meet expectations (at best) or fail to meet expectations (and therefore taint his hero’s image). Would be akin to having Hiddink return for another stint. Here’s hoping that HMB and crew enjoy even more success than anything we are currently dreaming.

  4. There are many positives in having HMB hired as the new head coach. Firstly we now have a coach that has been blooding some of our current crop of players since they were teenagers, he knows them better than the players know themselves, secondly HMB comes from a winning pedigree both as a player and a coach, winning in the respect that he was captain when South Korea made the Semi finals of the 2002 world cup, and then as a coach he won Bronze medal in the Olympics. One of the strongest qualities in having him lead is that he has a winning mentality and he will do whatever it takes to ensure the national team move forward in the right direction, it might not show in results in Brazil but we need to be patient, give him some time to build a squad to conform to the right way of playing football and to embed a winning mentality. Gunes is a good coach but I always feel it is better to have the head coach from the same country who is interested in seeing the national team develop rather than just adding wins to their CV and heading off to whoever pays more. Add to that, the respect that HMB has from his peers, there’s nothing like playing on the football field for 90 mins until you bleed for a coach that you have the up most respect for. Look at the great managers in the past 30 years, they all commanded respect and their players played their hearts out to win for them, I am thinking in particular Alex Ferguson, even Mourinho, their players feared losing because they didn’t want to upset their coach!

  5. Honestly does it really matter? They can bring back the thinner Guus Hiddink of 2001-2002 and with these kids he wouldn’t come close to sniffing the gains of that era. Fact is the current players are cut from a different cloth than the glory days players.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Choi Kang-Hee steps down / Hong Myong-Bo: new manager of Korean National Team - Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors

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

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