Hong Myung-bo (Yonhap News)
South Korean football legend Hong Myung-bo was named the new men's national team head coach on Monday.
The Korea Football Association (KFA), the national governing body of the sport, tasked the 44-year-old with guiding South Korea at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The KFA had earlieridentified Hong as "the strongest candidate" among four coaches in the running.
South Korea qualified for its eighth straight World Cup last Tuesday, and Choi Kang-hee immediately resigned as the head coach. When he took over the bench in December 2011, Choi had declared hewould only coach South Korea through the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup finals. The KFA accepted Choi's resignation offer on
Wednesday and promptly announced Hong as one of the candidates for the job.
The KFA said at the time it had already spoken to Hong about the job.
Hong had long been regarded as a front-runner for the national team job, thanks to his success with national teams at lower-age groups.
The charismatic former national team captain led South Korea's under-23 team to the bronze medal at the London Olympics last year. It was the country's first Olympic football medal. Two yearsearlier, Hong coached South Korea to the bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
In 2009, Hong was the head coach for the U-20 national team that reached South Korea's first quarterfinals at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 18 years.
Hong began his coaching career as an assistant on the senior national team from 2005 to 2007, and then on the U-23 squad from 2007 to 2008.
Most of the top players from the London Olympics under Hong have played on the senior national team during the Asian qualifying rounds, and they will likely be key members for the 2014 World Cup playing for the same coach.
Hong also enjoyed an illustrious playing career. The defensive stalwart played 136 international matches, the most by a South Korean player, and is the first Asian to play in four consecutive World Cup finals, from 1990 to 2002.
Hong recently received coaching training under Guus Hiddink, a former South Korean national team head coach and his mentor, with the Russian pro club FC Anzhi. Hong was the national team captainunder Hiddink at the 2002 World Cup, when South Korea, a co-host with Japan, reached the semifinals for the first time. (Yonhap News)