Hong out to bring back the glory days


South Korea made tough work of their qualifying campaign, but they should head to Brazil in high spirits under the leadership of national legend Hong Myung Bo.

The former defender captained the Taeguk Warriors as they reached the semi-finals against the odds in 2002, before leading the men’s Olympic team to a bronze medal at London 2012 as coach.

Hong took over from Choi Kang Hee in June 2013, after South Korea scraped through their final group by virtue of a single goal following two draws with Uzbekistan and a pair of defeats by Iran.

The 45-yearold was tasked with making the side more solid while increasing their attacking threat by injecting pace. There have been signs in recent months that the players are beginning to adapt to his style of play.

There have been wins against Switzerland, who went through qualifying unbeaten, Costa Rica and Greece, all sides that are also in Brazil.

Hong’s hopes of at least matching South Korea’s run to the last 16 in South Africa four years ago were boosted by a relatively favourable draw.

Much will depend on Hong Jeong Ho (above) in the heart of defence, one which Ki Sung Yuengwill look to protect. Son Heung Min, Koo Ja Cheol and Kim Bo Kyung will be entrusted with supplying chances for strikers Park Chu Young and Ji Dong Won. Hong said: “The most important thing is to be well prepared. I am expecting my boys to be bursting with confidence.”