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South Korea names Hong Myung-bo as new football coach

Former coach and captain Hong Myung-bo will return to guide South Korea’s national men’s football team, the governing body said on Sunday, five months after the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann.

“We have signed Hong as our next national team head coach,” a spokesman for the Korea Football Association (KFA) told AFP, declining to give any details of Hong’s contract.

Klinsmann, a World Cup winner as a player in 1990, was dismissed after South Korea’s disappointing semi-final exit from the Asian Cup in February.

Hong returns as South Korea coach 10 years after stepping down in the wake of the team’s group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Hong, 55, is celebrated as one of South Korea’s greatest football players. As a defender, he captained the South to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea co-hosted with Japan, and scored the decisive penalty in a quarter-final shootout against Spain.

Klinsmann was dismissed after only a year in the job following a 2-0 Asian Cup defeat by underdogs Jordan.

Just before his sacking, it emerged there had been a bust-up on the eve of the semi-final loss between Tottenham striker Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in of Paris Saint-Germain, leaving Son with a dislocated finger. 

Klinsmann later said in an interview with The Athletic that he and his coaching staff were made “responsible for the fight”.

The KFA’s leading target to replace Klinsmann, former Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch, chose to coach Canada instead.

The governing body also reportedly talked to Iraq’s Spanish coach Jesus Casas, with 71-year-old Senol Gunes from Turkey and former Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard also in the picture.

South Korea, led by Son as captain, played the past four World Cup qualifier matches under two interim coaches.

Hong will guide the national squad through the final stages of qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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