Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hong Myung Bo is the new Korea manager!

Edit: I may have jumped the gun here because Hong Myung Bo's appointment is neither official nor final. The forums were absolutely certain that he had been chosen, but there is still no official word. Not that anybody probably uses this little blog as a news source, but as of this moment, Hong is not the actual manager of the national team, though my money is still on him. 

First off, congrats to Iran. Welcome back to the World Cup.

Yes, that was a pretty miserable loss for us tonight and it was pathetic how we only made it to the World Cup on goal differential. If we had conceded 1 more and Uzbekistan had scored 1 more, I think we'd have been out. That's cringe-worthy.

But I'm not even that mad. It was a fitting end to the increasingly nightmarish Choi Kang Hee Era, which shall be henceforth known as the Dark Ages. The fact is that in 270 minutes of match time, Korea had exactly zero goals scored from open play. And this wasn't against exactly elite competition either. Against Lebanon, we got a last minute free kick goal that salvaged a draw. Against Uzbekistan, we won because of our opponent's own goal. And against Iran, we created some decent chances but failed to finish.
Vintage Hong Myung Bo, circa 2002

This shouldn't be happening on a team this talented. Remember that Korea has 3 young players (Koo Ja Cheol, Son Heung Min, and Ji Dong Won) who are thriving in the Bundesliga, now arguably the best league in Europe. Son Heung Min will become the most expensive Korean player ever, breaking the record set just last year by Ki Sung Yueng of Swansea, who has himself become a solid starter in the Premier League. He will be joined by Kim Bo Kyung, who played well in his first season at Cardiff City, a team that just won promotion into the Premier League. Lee Chung Yong is still a dangerous winger and hasn't lost much following his disastrous leg break. Kim Young Kwon, Hong Jeong Ho, Jang Hyun Soo, and Kim Chang Soo are all promising young defenders who may move to Europe in the near future.

In terms of individual talent, this young team is clearly on the rise.

Just last year, the Olympic team won bronze in a pretty loaded tournament that featured some major superstars like Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and Juan Mata just to name a few. They beat a Team GB that had legit players like Aaron Ramsey, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair, Tom Cleverley, and Micah Richards. They lost to a Brazil squad that was essentially the senior team, then went on to beat a pretty talented Japan team that had the likes of Hiroshi Kiyotake, Maya Yoshida, and Hiroki Sakai.

Ah, London 2012: Good memories
So why has the national team suffered so much? Well, there's a whole variety of reasons that I don't want to go into here.

But the important thing is that Hong Myung Bo is apparently the new manager!!!!!

This is great because not only is it inspiring to have a real Korean legend managing the national team, but because he's already familiar with most of the players due to his stint at the Olympics, he won't need a lot of time to implement his vision. There aren't many older players who deserve a spot in the starting 11, so his main job now is to integrate the core of the Olympic squad with players like Son Heung Min, Lee Chung Yong, and maybe Kim Shin Wook and Lee Keun Ho.

Still, he only has a year to prepare for the 2014 World Cup. I think that we should acknowledge that he has been given a tough hand with so little time to prepare, and be willing to accept perhaps a shaky performance. The real goal now is 2018 in Russia. Our young Olympic players will be veterans by then, and the Korean kids at the Barcelona youth teams might pan out by then.

Finally, some real hope.

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