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Jeonju (South Korea), May 25: South Korean football legend Hong Myung-bo said on Thursday that the national team players need to stay confident even though they will face difficult opponents at next month’s 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Hong, who currently serves as general secretary for the Korea Football Association (KFA), said South Korean players shouldn’t back down against Sweden, Mexico and Germany in their Group F action at the World Cup in Russia, reports Yonhap news agency.
“The World Cup is a stage where the players will face situations that they’ve never experienced before,” Hong said at a press meeting here.
“It’s important for us to overcome fear against opponents with higher FIFA rankings. I hope our players can play with confidence.”
Hong, the former World Cup Bronze Ball-winning defender, earned 136 caps with South Korea, tied for the most appearances with Cha Bum-kun. He also played in four consecutive World Cups from 1990 to 2002, and was the captain of the national team that reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.
The 49-year-old, who also coached South Korea at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said the players should stay healthy for the remaining three weeks. South Korea already lost key players like Dijon FCO midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon and Gangwon FC forward Lee Keun-ho to injuries.
“Head coach Shin Tae-yong must be suffering the most from this injury situation,” he said.
“Although this team appears to have some holes due to injured players, I think South Korea can still show an impressive performance to fans if they can utilize other players’ strengths.”
Hong emphasised that the national team needs fan support to play well at the World Cup.
“Our players will give their best efforts on the pitch,” he said.
“I hope fans can see their efforts, not just their results.”