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Former Asian Games football coach Lee Kwang-jong dies of leukemia

All Headlines 10:22 September 26, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- Former football coach Lee Kwang-jong, who led South Korea to the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games, died of leukemia Monday. He was 52 years old.

Lee had been coaching the country's under-23 men's squad when he came down with an acute form of leukemia in February 2015. The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Lee had been doing better in recent weeks, and it was shocked with the news of his passing.

The Asian Games gold was Lee's crowning achievement. It was South Korea's first Asiad title in men's football since 1986. The team went undefeated in three group matches and four knockout matches, scoring 13 goals and giving up none.

Lee was subsequently named the head coach for the 2016 Summer Olympics but had to step down even before the regional qualifying began because of health problems.

On Jan. 22 last year, Lee flew to Thailand with the U-22 national team for the King's Cup tournament but returned home seven days later with a high fever. Lee was later diagnosed with leukemia.

Lee had been coaching South Korean youth teams in different age groups since 2000 with a solid track record. He served as the head coach of the U-15 team from 2002 to 2003, while doubling as the senior assistant on the U-20 team from 2002 to 2005.

In 2008, Lee led the U-16 team to the runner-up finish at the AFC U-16 Championship. The following year, Lee took over the U-17 squad and coached the team to the quarterfinals at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the country's best performance in 22 years.

With Lee at the helm, South Korea finished third at the AFC U-19 Championship in 2010 and reached the round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011.

Lee finally won his first international trophy at the 2012 AFC U-19 Championship. Then at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in July 2013, Lee coached South Korea to the quarterfinals.

Lee was appointed the U-23 head coach in November 2013 and delivered the Asian Games gold the following year.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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