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[World Cup] Coach Hong noncommittal about future

By Korea Herald

Published : June 30, 2014 - 19:16

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Korea head coach Hong Myung-bo speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport on Monday. (Yonhap) Korea head coach Hong Myung-bo speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport on Monday. (Yonhap)
INCHEON (Yonhap) ― An apologetic Korean national team coach Hong Myung-bo on Monday was noncommittal about his immediate future in the wake of the team’s early exit from the FIFA World Cup.

Hong and his 23-man team returned home to little fanfare after getting eliminated from the tournament in Brazil with a winless record in three group matches.

South Korea played Russia to a 1-1 draw but lost to Algeria 4-2 and then to Belgium 1-0, finishing Group H in last place.

Hong, a former national team captain who starred in four World Cups as a player, apologized for the team’s disappointing showing.

“I am sorry that we weren’t able to return the love and support shown by our people during the World Cup,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport. “It was due to my deficiency as a coach that we didn’t put up the desired results. But our players all have a bright future ahead and not everything was lost from this tournament.”

Hong, who became the coach last June and is signed through the Asian Cup tournament in January, had been under pressure to step down in the aftermath of the elimination. This was Korea’s first winless World Cup since 1998.

Asked to comment on his status, Hong said it wasn’t yet time to discuss the issue.

“I’ve had a long trip back home, and I am exhausted,” he said. “I’ve put some thoughts into (my future), but it’s not an easy decision to make.”

After the loss to Belgium, Hong said, “I don’t get swayed by other people’s opinions when I make decisions. I am going to think about what the right course of action is for myself and decide accordingly.”

Hong said getting beat up by Algeria might have been the turning point.

“It’s difficult to make improvements during the World Cup,” he said.

“The second match against Algeria was a huge one, and (losing it) had a major impact on our team.”