(ADDS more comments in last 6 paras)
By Joo Kyung-don
PAJU, South Korea, July 4 (Yonhap) -- Former South Korean under-20 football team boss Shin Tae-yong has been named as the new head coach of the senior national football team, officials here said Tuesday.
The Korea Football Association (KFA)'s technical committee, led by Kim Ho-gon, said Shin will lead the team through the 2018 FIFA World Cup, should South Korea qualify for the tournament.
Shin fills the vacancy at the football coaching position left by Uli Stielike, who was sacked last month after South Korea's 3-2 loss to Qatar in a World Cup qualifier.
The 46-year-old recently managed South Korea at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at home, where they suffered a round of 16 exit. Last year, he led South Korea at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games and helped them to reach the quarterfinals.
In pro football, Shin coached South Korean outfit Seongnam FC to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League title in 2010. He also won the top flight K League title in 2009 and bagged two FA Cup trophies with Seongnam.
Shin also was an assistant to Stielike before he was appointed head coach for the U-20 squad last November. The KFA said Shin's previous experience will help the team to qualify for the World Cup.
"Shin previously worked as assistant coach for the national team and that's why he knows the players more than anyone else," the KFA technical director Kim said at a press conference at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. "One of his specialties is his communication skills, so he will make the team atmosphere great again. Shin also showed good tactical acumen, so we believe he will deliver victories to South Korea in the remaining matches."
The Taeguk Warriors are trying to secure the last automatic berth in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with only two matches remaining. They are currently sitting in second place in Group A with 13 points, seven behind already qualified Iran and one ahead of Uzbekistan.
South Korea will host Iran on Aug. 31 and face Uzbekistan in Tashkent five days later. Only the top two teams from each of the two groups will directly advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The two third-place teams must go through a playoffs for their final chance.
Kim said Shin will lead the team even if South Korea finish third in the group and enter the playoff rounds, but his contract with the KFA will be terminated when the national team fails to qualify for the World Cup.
"We don't think another coaching change after two matches guarantees good result," Kim said. "Shin has a right to form his own coaching staff and the technical committee is ready to support."
Shin, a former attacking midfielder who has 23 caps for South Korea, has been known for playing attacking football, but also has been criticized for his team's weak defense.
"We know Shin's team had defense issues, but I think underage tournaments are different from senior competitions," Kim said. "This South Korea team does have a defensive problem, so the technical committee will talk about this with Shin later."
Shin is familiar with a "firefighting role" as he previously served with the Olympic football team and the U-20 squad. On both occasions, he came in the middle of South Korea's preparation for the competitions and eventually led the team to the knockout stages. This also apparently made the KFA to go with Shin.
"We highly valued Shin's ability to operate the team and his coaching sense," Kim said. "He has experience and I think he will become stronger as he plays matches with the team."
The KFA said it is fully ready to help Shin get grasp of the team.
"We don't have enough time, so we will communicate with Shin as much as possible," Kim said. "We will utilize our resources effectively to analyze our opponents and check out the players."
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