(ATTN: ADDS more comments from 12th para; photo)
By Joo Kyung-don
SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong said Thursday he is ready to devote himself to help South Korea achieve its ninth consecutive World Cup appearance.
Shin was appointed as the new leader of the men's national football team on Tuesday after the Korea Football Association (KFA) technical committee meeting. The 46-year-old previously managed South Korea's football squad at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games and most recently at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at home.
Shin said he knows his most urgent task is to get South Korea into the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"I know I took this job at a difficult time, but it's an honor, and I want to thank the KFA President, technical committee and officials for giving me this opportunity," Shin said at a press conference at the KFA House in Seoul. "I'm ready to devote all for this team to reach the World Cup nine straight times."
In the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Taeguk Warriors are barely holding on to the final automatic qualification spot with only two matches remaining. South Korea are stuck at 13 points with four wins, a draw and three losses, sitting in second place in Group A, but Uzbekistan are only one point behind.
In Asia, the top two teams from Groups A and B will advance directly to the World Cup in Russia. Two third-place teams must go through a playoffs for their final chance.
South Korea are scheduled to host already qualified Iran on Aug. 31 and face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Sept. 5 to close out the qualifying stage for the 2018 World Cup.
The KFA previously said Shin will lead the team through the 2018 World Cup, should South Korea qualify for the tournament. The new coach said he is now only focusing on winning the matches against Iran and Uzbekistan.
"The Contract period is important, but what's more important than that is that we need to go to the World Cup," he said. "I believe I will get a better deal from the KFA if we reach the World Cup."
Shin said he will run the team differently from what his predecessor Uli Stielike did. The German was fired last month following South Korea's 3-2 defeat to Qatar in a World Cup qualifier.
"Stielike and I have a different style and a different character," he said. "I'm not going to say that I will pick all the players that Stielike used in the past. Whoever can help this team beat Iran and Uzbekistan will be selected."
Shin also has to form a new coaching staff to support operations of the team. He hinted at bringing new assistant coaches into the national team. There are currently two assistant coaches left on the senior squad -- Seol Ki-hyeon and Cha Sang-kwang.
"Before we make the one team, we need to make the coaching staff as one unit," he said. "I think it's not right for assistant coaches to just support their boss. They also need to give their opinions to help this team."
Shin is known for his chameleon-like tactics, while entertaining fans with attacking football. While critics pointed out his team had weak defense, Shin vowed that it will be different this time.
"Unlike the Olympic team or the U-20 side, now I can pick the best players in this country (without age restrictions)," he said. "Now we just need to boost the organization of our defensive teamwork. I think we can build up solid defense."
The former Seongnam FC coach said for the next two qualifiers, he may come up with a more conservative style of football than he previously showed.
"For the next two qualifiers, we need to play very carefully and create stable defense," he said. "We first should never concede a goal and collect victory even we just score one goal."
When asked about utilizing South Korea's biggest football star Son Heung-min, Shin said fans will see the Tottenham Hotspur attacker being used differently than he was in the Stielike era.
"People often say Son plays well with Tottenham but not with the national team," he said. "I have a plan, which Stielike didn't use before. Our use of Son and his movement could be different than before."
Shin said he is confident of maximizing the players' talent and using their best skills because he already knows most of the national team footballers' characteristics. Before serving as assistant to Stielike, Shin did manage the national team as the caretaker for friendly matches against Venezuela and Uruguay in September 2014.
"I had good communication with the players before, and I know each player's character," he said. "Although I have to think about ways to motivate these players at this moment, but I'm confident of utilizing their talents."
Shin, former attacking midfielder who scored three goals in 23 international matches, also asked for support from fans and the media to help South Korea grab tickets to the World Cup in Russia.
"People say South Korean football is in danger, but I want fans to give their support with hope," he said. "I know I will be denounced by fans if we fail to get results, but until then, I want people to give us energy."
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