Kim Eun-joong, 44, who led South Korea to the quarterfinals of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) U-20 World Cup in Argentina in May-June this year, is back on the soccer field as a member of the K League’s Technical Study Group (TSG).
“I joined the KFA’s TSG just before the A-Match this month,” Kim told me over the phone recently, “and I started my activities with the Incheon United-Pohang Steelers match on the 2nd.”
Kim, who made his managerial debut at the U-20 World Cup, was relieved of his duties at the end of his contract after finishing fourth in the tournament.
After a busy schedule of media interviews and some time to reconnect with his family, he joined TSG, which has been called the “think tank of the K League,” at the suggestion of Park Tae-ha.
The TSG, which is part of the Technical Committee of the KFA, analyzes the performance of the K League and makes recommendations on how to improve it.
With TSG’s coaching staff consisting of P-level coaching certifications and PhDs, it’s not uncommon for former professional soccer managers to return to coaching after working for TSG.
“I used to watch K League games all the time,” says Kim, “but I was cautious. Now that I’m at TSG, it’s easy to get there and I can focus on the game,” he said, adding, “I’m studying anew.”
A lot has also changed in the three months since Kim’s departure for the U-20 World Cup.
Defender Kim Ji-soo is now playing for Brentford in the English Premier League (EPL), while midfielder Bae Joon-ho, a standout from the U-20 World Cup, made his debut for Stoke City in the English second division.
Defender Hwang In-taek was loaned to Estoril Praia in the Portuguese first division.
All three players are making their European debuts after building on their performances at the U-20 World Cup.
Captain Lee Seung-won (Gangwon), who scored seven attacking points at the U-20 World Cup and was awarded the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third best player, made his K League 1 debut, which was one of his primary goals.
Kim Ji-soo and goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon) were called up to the senior national team for the first time during the A-Match in September, while defender Park Chang-woo (Jeonbuk) was named to the ‘Hwang Sun-hong Ho’ squad in preparation for the Paris Olympics and played in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.
“It feels good to see them get more attention and recognition than I expected,” said a proud Kim, who added, “Even now, whenever there is a professional match, I check the roster to see if ‘my boys’ are playing or not, and if they are, I prioritize that match.”
He watched Bae Joon-ho’s debut in England live in the middle of the night, and even called him after watching striker Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon) play.
“I can’t pretend I don’t know them because they are like my children. I even send messages to players who seem to have lost confidence,” he said. “All the players who are going abroad have contacted me, and I tell them, ‘Hang in there and learn a lot.'”
“The roots of the A team will be stronger if the current U-20 players play and experience a lot. You can only get that experience by playing now,” he said, emphasizing the importance of practical experience.
“You have to adapt quickly to the environment and lifestyle, and get to know your teammates. You also need to learn the language,” he said, “which is more important than the technical skills.”
During his break, Kim traveled to Japan and watched the J-League, where he also learned a lot.
“Japanese players have a dream of going to Europe, and they are eager to do personal training. They think a lot about how they can be as good as the world’s best players and work hard,” he said. “It’s not that our players aren’t challenging and working hard lately, but I think it’s still not enough,” he pointed out.
“They watch a lot of overseas soccer videos and refer to them, but I don’t think they do the hard training and preparation that they need to do to be that spectacular,” he said, adding, “You have to invest in your body, spend a lot of time, and make a lot of bloody efforts.”
As he continues to build on his first experience at the helm, he’s not sure when or where that will be, but a return to coaching is definitely on his mind.
“After the U-20 World Cup, I was approached by a professional team, but I politely declined because I didn’t think it was the right time because I didn’t have a clear direction yet,” Kim said. “I think I can only go to a place that fits my philosophy and direction,” he explained.
“If I get the chance, I would like to take charge of an overseas team,” he said, adding, “I want to show that Korean coaches can do well.” He also hinted at his ambition.
Kim, who was appointed as an ambassador for the ‘Seoul EOU Cup U-18 International Youth Soccer Tournament’ on the 13th, added to his external activities by meeting with reporters at the ceremony.
“I want to show a dynamic soccer that can fight from a high position based on physical strength, and a soccer that is slow and quick to attack, making it hard to take your eyes off the field,” he said. “It seems that K League 1 Gwangju FC is playing a dynamic game with strong physical strength and a strong lecture hall these days.”
He also showed his support for the national teams.
“I hope the national team, which is preparing for the U-17 World Cup (in November), will have a good performance in Indonesia. For the U-22 team that played recently, there were some players who were called up for the first time, and there were some players who competed in the Asian Games in that age group, so there must have been some difficulties, but it will get better,” Kim said.
“I hope the A team will also do a good job in selecting players and find a good combination to perform well.” 토토사이트