SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea have named former skipper Hong Myung-bo as the new head coach of the national team, the Korean Football Association announced on Monday.
Hong, who captained the Koreans to fourth place at the 2002 World Cup on home soil, takes over from Choi Kang-hee, who stepped down last week after guiding South Korea to their eighth consecutive World Cup finals appearance.
Hong led the Korean Olympic team to a bronze medal at the London Olympics last year and has long been viewed as a national team coach of the future.
However, the KFA have decided it was the right time to give him the top job after South Korea scraped through to the 2014 World Cup on goal difference after finishing runners-up in Asian qualifying Group A.
“The Korea Football Association has named former Olympic team coach Hong Myung-bo as successor to national team coach Choi Kang-hee whose contract has expired,” the KFA said in a statement.
Choi took over in December 2011 and said at the time his only mission was to get the team to Brazil and that he would step aside after qualification.
There was little chance of him being asked to reconsider after an unimpressive end to qualifying, where the Koreans lost twice to Iran, drew with Lebanon and scored lacklustre wins over Qatar and Uzbekistan.
The KFA said it had given Hong a two-year contract through the 2014 Brazil World Cup and 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.
Hong, who played 136 games for the national team, will hold a news conference on Tuesday.
He will return later on Monday from Russia, where he was working as an assistant coach under Dutchman Guus Hiddink at Anzhi Makhachkala. Hiddink was coach of the Koreans in 2002 when they reached the World Cup semi-finals.
Reporting by Jack Kim; Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore, Editing by Patrick Johnston