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Hwang Sun-hong chosen as caretaker boss of nat'l football team

Feb. 27, 2024 - 20:54 By Yonhap
U-23 Korean national team manager Hwang Sun-hong (Yonhap)

U-23 Korean national team manager Hwang Sun-hong was chosen Tuesday to concurrently helm the senior national team as its interim manager.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) made the announcement following a meeting of its National Team Committee, which is responsible for appointing coaches for national teams across different age brackets.

"Hwang is a coach affiliated with the KFA and has recently demonstrated his achievements with his team's victory at the Hangzhou Asian Games," Chung Hae-sung, the new chief of the committee, said during a press briefing to announce the decision. "He also has experience in international competitions and an understanding of Asian football."

With the appointment, Hwang will have to juggle between the two jobs for the time being.

He will lead the senior team during the two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Thailand next month as the caretaker coach. South Korea will then play two remaining qualifiers in June.

As the U-23 national team boss, Hwang will also have to lead the team in the 2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup, which will be held in Qatar in April and also serves as the Asian regional final qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The position of the Korean men's national team manager has been vacant since the KFA sacked Jurgen Klinsmann on Feb. 16, holding him accountable for South Korea's disappointing semifinal exit from the AFC Asian Cup.

The committee initially planned to appoint a permanent manager ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers. Reversing the plan, however, the committee decided last week to first appoint a caretaker boss and then to take its time finding a full-time head coach.

The reversal came after strong criticism from Korean football fans regarding the rumored plan by the KFA to poach a coach under contract with a club in the domestic K League 1 for the national team.

Fans of teams whose coaches were in the rumor mill for the national team job condemned the KFA's lack of respect for the league. Among the coaches being bandied about were Hong Myung-bo of Ulsan HD FC and Kim Hak-bum of Jeju United.

There also were media reports that former Vietnam national team coach Park Hang-seo was a strong candidate for the caretaker coach position, but Chung said during the press briefing that "Hwang was the first choice."

"After the second meeting, we communicated with the KFA and offered the position to Hwang on Sunday afternoon. Hwang then asked for time to think about it, and finally we received an answer from him yesterday that he would accept the position," he explained, detailing the process of his appointment. (Yonhap)