The Korea Herald


Despite elimination, S. Korean football coach sees bright future

By 이우영

Published : Aug. 14, 2016 - 14:03

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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Yonhap) – South Korea were eliminated from the Rio de Janeiro Olympic men's football competition Saturday, but coach Shin Tae-yong said there's a promising road ahead for his players.

South Korea lost to Honduras 1-0 in the quarterfinals at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, some 340 kilometers north of Rio. Shin, however, said there can be a bright future for South Korean football with this generation of young players.

"I'm proud of our players for showing great performances although they were seen as the weakest generation in South Korean Olympic football history," Shin said at the post-match press conference. "If we can keep up the good work, I think the future of South Korean football is bright."

The loss against Honduras meant South Korea had to give up on their dreams of winning two consecutive Olympic medals. South Korea won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, their first medal in football.

"I'm sorry for letting football fans and South Koreans down," Shin said. "We played the match without regret, but we need to take a good look at ourselves on our goal scoring skills."

South Korea outshot Honduras 16-6 but couldn't put one past Luis Lopez in net. Honduran forward Alberth Elis scored the only goal of the match in the 59th minute.

"We prepared a lot for this match, but the Honduran goalkeeper made good saves," Shin said. "I have to comfort forward Son Heung-min, who is extremely sad right now."

Shin criticized Honduran players for their time-wasting antics after they got the lead and said there should have been more minutes in stoppage time. Some Honduran players were seen falling to the ground repeatedly and lying on the ground for minutes to kill the time.

"At the end of the game, a Honduran player wasted more than three minutes, and we were only given three minutes of stoppage time afterwards," he said. "We should have received more than six

minutes after the regulation."

Despite being eliminated in the quarters, Shin has made history for South Korean football.

The young Taeguk Warriors reached the quarters as the Group C winners with two wins and a draw, which is their best group stage performance ever at the Olympics. Shin's side routed Fiji 8-0 and played to a 3-3 draw against Germany before defeating the defending champions Mexico 1-0.

Shin, who is also an assistant to South Korean senior national football team boss Uli Stielike, also established his reputation as a friendly leader and skilled tactician through the Olympics. The 45-year-old first took the helm of the squad in February 2015 after the former coach Lee Kwang-jong resigned from the post to undergo treatment for leukemia.  

At the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in January, which doubled as the Olympic qualification tournament, Shin used various formations from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2. He also used

three center back defense tactics in certain occasions and helped South Korea to achieve its eighth consecutive Olympic appearance.

At the Rio Games opener against Fiji, which was considered the weakest team in the group, Shin used his friendly brotherlike approach to boost players' confidence. South Korea scored just one goal against Fiji in the first half but instead of scolding players at halftime, Shin encouraged the players and explained what didn't go well. South Korea went on to score seven goals in the latter half and completed the 8-0 victory, their largest victory at the Olympics ever.

Personally for Shin, the Rio Games also washed off his previous memory at the Olympics. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Shin competed as a player, but South Korea then finished third in the group with three draws and failed to join the last eight.  

"As a player, I had three draws at the Olympics, but as a coach, I made it into the quarterfinals," he said. "As for my next move, I will return to being the senior national team assistant coach and help Stielike's preparation for the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup."