|Guus Hiddink. (Yonhap News)|
South Korean men’s national football coach Hong Myung-bo said Thursday that former national coach Guus Hiddink advised him to help improve players’ concentration, as the country gets ready for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Hong visited Hiddink, who coached South Korea to the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup, at a Seoul hospital. The Dutchman is recovering from a recent knee surgery here.
After his meeting with his former coach, Hong told reporters that Hiddink said he’d watched videos of South Korea’s games and pointed out issues to be addressed for the big tournament this summer.
“Coach Hiddink said our team has given opponents scoring chances because of lapses of concentration,” Hong said. “I told him about some issues that I am faced with and he offered his own opinions. We were mostly on the same page.”
South Korea has been paired with Belgium, Russia and Algeria in Group H. Hiddink has previously coached the Russian national team and also a Russian pro club, FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Hong also spent time as an assistant under Hiddink before taking over the national team last summer.
Hong said he and Hiddink talked about the Russian national team but declined to offer specifics.
Hong served as the captain of the 2002 World Cup squad that made an improbable run to the final four. The historic accomplishment made Hiddink a revered figure in South Korea and he was later made an honorary citizen of Seoul.
Meanwhile, Hong reiterated his earlier plan to have a one-on-one meeting with former national team captain Park Ji-sung about the player’s availability for the World Cup.
Park retired from international play in January 2011 and has repeatedly said he won’t return to the World Cup this summer, even if Hong asks him to.
Hong had said Wednesday he hopes to meet Park and listen directly to what he has to say. The coach said Thursday that he didn’t start planning the meeting out of the blue.
“Park has made great contributions to football in this country, and this could be his last chance to play at a World Cup,” Hong said. “This is something that we must go through. He would obviously have to be in great shape to play for the country.”
Hong said he would like to meet Park around March, after the national team plays a European opponent in an away friendly. Park, a former Manchester United midfielder, currently plays for the top-division Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. (Yonhap News)