South Korea chooses U23 coach over Park Hang-seo to replace Klinsmann

By Hieu Luong   February 27, 2024 | 01:02 am PT
South Korea chooses U23 coach over Park Hang-seo to replace Klinsmann
Hwang Sun-hong as U23 South Korea coach at the Asian Games in China in 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Korean Football Association (KFA) has appointed Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of U23 South Korea, to be the national team’s interim manager at the World Cup qualifying matches in March.

According to the KFA's National Team Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Hwang is expected to coach the national team until May so it would have enough time to find a long-term coach.

One of the reasons Hwang was chosen is his understanding of the young generation of South Korean players, including Lee Kang-in, Jung Woo-young and Seol Young-woo, who were involved in the "ping-pong incident" that resulted in Son Heung-min's dislocated finger before the 0-2 semifinal loss to Jordan at the 2023 Asian Cup earlier this month.

Hwang's task is to resolve the chaotic atmosphere and lead South Korea to victory in two matches against Thailand on March 21 and 26, in the second round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. He will then continue to coach the U23 team in the 2024 U23 Asian Cup in Qatar from April 15 to May 3, with the goal of finishing in the top three to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

South Korea sacked coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Feb. 16 for the failure at the Asian Cup and his work attitude. The other candidate for the interim manager position was Park Hang-seo, who is highly regarded for his understanding of Southeast Asian football after many successful years coaching Vietnam.

Hwang, 55, is a former star striker in South Korea, scoring 50 goals in 103 appearances for the national team from 1988 to 2002. He played in Germany for Bayer Leverkusen II in the 1991-1992 season, then for Wuppertaler SV in the 1992-1993 season. Afterwards, Hwang returned to play in South Korea for Pohang Steelers, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Jeonnam Dragons, and in Japan for Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol.

The first professional team he managed was Busan IPark, followed by Pohang Steelers, FC Seoul, and Daejeon Hana Citizen. In 2021, Hwang took charge of U23 South Korea and led the team to the Asian Games gold medal in China.

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