Former South Korean national football head coach Hong Myung-bo said Sunday his substantial international experience will be a great asset in his new position in China.
Hong left for China on Sunday to take over as head coach of Hangzhou Greentown FC in the top-flight Chinese Super League. He signed a two-year deal last month for his first club coaching job and also his first work since leaving the South Korean national team in July 2014.
“There will be difficulties along the way, but I will try to overcome them by drawing back on my experience,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport. “I will face new challenges head on.”
Before guiding South Korea at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Hong coached the under-23 team to the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics and worked with the under-20 squad. Hong had also served as an assistant coach on the senior national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
As a player, Hong was a national icon who also earned rave reviews internationally and took part in four consecutive World Cups starting in 1990. He led the country to the semifinals as captain in 2002. Hong remains the all-time leader among South Koreans with 136 caps.
“I don’t know the players at Hangzhou all that well, but I will try to communicate with them the best I can to produce positive results,” he added. “I want to develop our young players into good football players and also into good human beings, so that they can demonstrate professionalism on and off the field.”
And to work with some of the young players, Hong reached out to 31-year-old South Korean defensive back Oh Beom-seok.
“We have a young club, and we needed some veteran presence,” the coach said. “We felt Oh Beom-seok fit the mold perfectly.”
Hong insisted he won’t acquire any more South Korean players. Oh is one of nine South Koreans currently in the Chinese Super League, and Yanbian Changbaishan, with South Korean coach Park Tae-ha at the helm, lead the way with three Koreans.
Hong and Hangzhou are scheduled to depart for Thailand next Sunday to open their three-week offseason camp.
The new coach said his immediate goal is to keep Hangzhou in the first division for 2016.
“We’ve been close to the relegation zone of late, and we have to stay away,” Hong said of the club that finished 11th in 2015, four points out of the relegation zone, and 12th in 2014, only three points clear of demotion to the second division.
“Once I join the club, I will build concrete goals with the rest of the club,” Hong added.
Source: Yonhap News