LOS ANGELES (Yonhap) ― Addressing the potential return of former captain Park Ji-sung to the men’s national football team, head coach Hong Myung-bo said he hopes to resolve the issue before it becomes a distraction for his squad.
Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles, where the national team has been training since last week, Hong said he hasn’t changed his mind about wanting to speak to Park, 32, about joining him for the big tournament in Brazil.
Park, who retired from international play in January 2011, has repeatedly said he will not return to play in this year’s World Cup. Earlier this month, however, Hong said he hoped to have a heart-to-heart with Park and listen directly to what the veteran has to say. Hong also once said it was possible for Park to join his team when South Korea plays Greece in a friendly match in March.
Hong said he broached the topic early in the year, knowing it would come up at some point during the buildup to the World Cup, because he wanted to deal with it as soon as he could.
“I know Park has said he wouldn’t play for the national team again, but I didn’t think we’d completely closed the book on his status,” Hong said. “I still want to listen to his thoughts about the possibility of a comeback.”
Hong said he plans to travel to Europe soon to see some South Koreans in action there, such as Ji Dong-won of FC Augsburg and Koo Ja-cheol of Mainz 05, both in the top-flight Bundesliga in Germany.