Shin Tae-yong appointed as the manager for the 2018 Russia World Cup soccer team
Destiny of Korean in Shin's hands
<Alumnus Shin Tae-yon (Sports Education '88) appointed as the manager of Korea's national soccer team>
Former manager of the U-20 national soccer team Shin Tae-yong (47, photo) has set off for a difficult journey that will determine the fate of Korean soccer and his life as a coach. He stepped up as Korea's answer for Korea to participate in its ninth consecutive World Cup. The Korean Football Association recommended Shin as the manager for the national team at the technical committee meeting held at the Paju Training Center (NFC) on the 4th, and announced that they signed a contract with the approval of KFA Chairman Chung Mong-gyu.
The contract period for Shin is for one year until the World Cup finals scheduled next year in Russia. If Korea is unable to take second place in its group through the two remaining matches (Aug 31 against Iran, Sep 5 against Uzbekistan) for the final qualifiers for the World Cup and is pushed down to third place, Shin will continue to lead Team Korea until the inter-continental playoffs. Technical committee chairperson Kim Ho-gon said, "I hope that it does not happen, but we want to show that we have put the fate of Korean soccer in the hands of Shin."
The reason why Shin was picked over KFA Vice Chairman Heo Jung-moo (62), who was deemed to be the top candidate, Head Coach Jung Hae-sung (59), and former manager of Seoul Choi Yong-soo (44) was because of his excellent communication abilities as a young coach. He is famous for his 'big brother leadership' that respects the individuality of young athletes, rather than having an authoritative attitude. He also helped former manager Uli Stielike as a coach from 2014 and earned the trust of key players such as Ki Sung-yong (Swansea City), Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace) and Son Heung-min (Tottenham).
Technical committee chairman Kim Ho-gon said, "The reason why the national team did not do well despite the outstanding abilities of the players was because the manager and players could not become one." He added, "We believed that Shin can energize the team in a short period of time and raise the sense of unity that has been scattered about lately."
Shin is well aware that his fate as a coach lies on the fate of the national team. If Team Korea takes second place in the group with the two remaining matches for the World Cup finals, Shin will become a hero of Korean soccer. On the other hand, if he fails to enter the Russian World Cup, he knows that he will be treated as a traitor.
Korea's record in the final preliminaries is 4 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses (13 points), for a very shaky second place just one point ahead of third place Uzbekistan (4 wins, 4 losses, 12 points). The only way for Korea to stay in second place on its own is to win both remaining matches. The most famous coaches in the past such as Cha Beom-keun, Cho Gwang-rae, Choi Gang-hee and Hong Myung-bo were also picked up in the past as the manager of the national team, but they left only with dishonor, so there is huge pressure on him.
Still, Shin boldly took on the challenge. Even when there just rumors about him being talked about to be the manager of the national team, he boldly stated, "If I am needed for Korean soccer, I will do whatever I can."
Shin believes in his ability that gave him the nickname 'fire fighter'. Immediately after the failure in the Brazilian World Cup in 2014, he became a coach for the national team, and helped Korean soccer regain its honor at the 2015 Asian Cup. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he took the place of the late Lee Gwang-jong who suffered acute leukemia, and was able to lead the Korean team to the top 8. Though the Korean team stopped short at the round of 16 during the U-20 World Cup held in Korea, he left a strong impression by defeating Argentina in the group rounds.