Choi Kang-hee denies his uncertain future affects team
Published : 2013-02-14 19:04
Updated : 2013-02-14 19:04
The head coach of the men’s South Korean soccer team on Thursday bristled at the notion that his uncertain future with the club has distracted his players, saying he will not talk about his status during qualifications for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Choi Kang-hee, who has been coaching the national team since December 2011, said the country’s 4-0 loss to Croatia in last week’s friendly match had nothing to do with any lack of mental strength on the players’ part.
“The players may have lost their concentration a bit as we experimented with different tactics,” said Choi, after a luncheon with Chung Mong-gyu, head of the Korea Football Association, and former national team head coaches in Seoul. “Otherwise, they have no problem.”
Following the deflating loss, with critics questioning the mental toughness of the players, Choi’s earlier comment about his future with the team was thrust back into the spotlight.
When he took over the national team, Choi stated that he would step down once South Korea qualifies for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Asian qualifying tournament will wrap up in June.
South Korea, seeking its eighth consecutive World Cup appearance, is ranked second in its group with four matches left.
The top two countries from the group will earn automatic berths into the World Cup, while the third-place team will be relegated to playoffs for the extra spot.
With South Korea having lost its past three matches, Choi has been called a “lame duck” coach by some circles who feel he has lost control of the team.
The coach said some expressions describing him have been “inappropriate.”
“The players and I are all on the same page as we play in the final qualification round,” Choi said. “We’re all confident that we can reach the World Cup.” (Yonhap News)