“Now I think I need to develop my ability to win the tournament (R16). I think that’s the most important thing. I have confirmed how to pass the group stage, and I think I need to practice, think, and find a way to win the tournament with all my might.”
Kim Young-kwon (32, Ulsan Hyundai), who succeeded in advancing to the round of 16 after three World Cup appearances, talked about the future of Korean soccer. In summary, like the slogan of the Korea Football Association, moving forward, that is, ‘go forward without fear’, emphasized ‘forward’.
It may be because of the experience of ‘backward’ in the past. Korean soccer, which advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in its history at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, took a step back after experiencing the bitter taste of being eliminated from the group stage in the 2014 Brazil tournament (1 draw, 2 losses) and the 2018 Russia tournament (1 win, 2 losses). For various reasons, various coaches such as Cho Kwang-rae, Choi Kang-hee, Hong Myung-bo (Brazil tournament), Stielike, Shin Tae-yong (Russia tournament), etc., confused the players, and the ‘legacy of the round of 16’ was so faded. There was no time to implement the philosophy, and it was a series of vicious cycles in which we had to desperately pursue the ‘result’ without a proper ‘process’. I think it is not simply a problem for the Football Association, but fortunately, due to the ‘learning effect’, for the past 4 years, Bento has pushed coach with perseverance, and after 12 years, he has succeeded in rebounding by advancing to the round of 16.
This time, it is time to continue the ‘R16 Legacy’. Kim Young-kwon, a veteran who has experienced all of these processes by playing in three consecutive World Cup finals and participated in 100 A-matches, emphasized the need to ‘move forward’ by taking examples from Brazil and Russia as lessons. He believes that a ‘moving forward’ can only be achieved when everyone around the national team as well as the players come together.
“I think the future of Korean football will be really important. However, this is something that our players alone cannot do. Our players can develop only when there are fans. We ask for your continued interest and support in the future.”
This conversation with Kim Young-kwon took place on the 400th MBN sports talk show ‘Sports Night’. It is Kim Young-kwon, the ‘Miracle Man in the 3rd round’, who scored the winning goal to defeat Germany in the 3rd round of the group stage of the World Cup in Russia 4 years ago and the equalizer against Portugal in the 3rd round of the World Cup in Qatar this year.
Necessity of inheriting the ‘Legend of the Top 16’
To return to the main topic, the role of the ‘post-bento’, that is, the next coach, is more important than ever to continue the ‘R16 Legacy’. Coach Daum takes on the task of enhancing the ability of the players who have experienced the round of 16 this time, as well as strengthening Bento’s high level of leadership. As it has been since Hiddink in 2002, expectations have risen and we must overcome the burden of being compared in many ways.
Regardless of nationality, finding the right person is the top priority, and domestic or foreign supervision is the next issue, but it is inevitable that it is realistic to prioritize separating domestic and foreign supervision. Kim Young-kwon, who has experienced many foreign coaches during his 12 years of national team and overseas team life, explains this.
“In the case of domestic directors, the advantage is that direct communication is possible, but I think the disadvantage is that the emotional part may not be conveyed to foreign directors because they have to talk through an interpreter. However, I think the advantage of foreign directors is that they start from zero base. It’s about starting fairly from the beginning without knowing the player information. I think the best thing about representative players is that they start without prejudice against players.”
Q. Does this mean that you prefer a foreign coach to succeed Bento?
“Um, can I not comment? haha.”
Already, there are news that incumbent and ‘savage’ domestic coaches are showing interest in the national team coaching position, and foreign coaches from Europe who have experienced East Asian teams are preparing to submit their resumes. In order to inherit Bento’s active, leading and attractive football at the Qatar World Cup, it is inevitable that the weight is focused on foreign coaches. Of course, there is also a strong opinion that “domestic supervision can be sufficient.”
(※ On the one hand, starting from the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America, the number of participating countries in the finals will increase significantly from 32 to 48, and the number of places to participate in Asia will increase by 4 from 4.5 to 8.5, making advancing to the finals ‘very’ easy. To put it simply, Asia Even 8th place means going to the finals. In this situation, there is a view that it is right to recruit an expensive foreign coach. The basis for the argument that domestic coaches will be able to fully demonstrate their capabilities is that the current player base is so solid and has potential. It seems to be there.)
To believe in a ‘leader’
Anyway, if you believe that the coach who will be appointed early next year is generally leading the national team in the right direction, the players are already asking you to show the pulpit that you entrust from the World Cup qualifiers to the end of the finals, as in the case of Bento. It is the aspect of maintaining and stabilizing the national team’s organizational power, and of continuous development.
(※If it is a 1 + 3 year contract period according to the results of the Asian Cup in Qatar next year, which is raised by some, it is highly likely that the ‘result’ will be pursued again rather than the ‘content’.)
“For 4 years I think not only the players but also many other people felt that the prepared results could be this good. That’s why I think it’s right to prepare (like this) for the next World Cup (2026 North and Central America). And, I hope that there will be a (appointed) coach who will stand by our players and protect them.”
‘Standing on the player’s side’ that popped up at the end is that the manager captivated the player’s heart by serving as a shield for the player against external attacks. there is. Some players also gave interviews like this at this World Cup, and you can guess what type of coach the players are looking for right now. It also means that Director Bento did that.
“There will definitely be a position from the Football Association in determining the coach, but I don’t think we should completely ignore the player’s position. The player’s position is also very important, and I hope you will listen carefully to what the players think and what style of play they like.”
It is curious to what extent the Football Association National Team Strengthening Committee, which will decide the next coach, will refer to the opinions of the players. Of course, since the committee is the main body that draws the big picture of the national team, such as the appointment of a coach, the decision must be respected.
Maximization of ‘Round of 16 Assets’
In the end, no matter which coach is appointed, the success of the next World Cup will depend on how much the player’s ability, which is the core of the ‘final 16 legacy’, is maximized. In that respect, the ‘experience and age’ of the players are a big weapon, but the prospects are bright for now. Current captains Son Heung-min, Hwang Eui-jo, Lee Jae-seong, and Kim Jin-soo are now 30 years old, but Kim Moon-hwan is 27 years old, Hwang Hee-chan and Hwang In-beom, Kim Min-jae are 26 years old, Baek Seung-ho 25 years old, Cho Kyu-seong 24 years old, (small) Jung Woo-young 23 years old, Lee Kang-in 21 years old. only three Most of them will reach the peak of their skills at the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America.
Q. Did you foresee that Lee Kang-in would make such an impressive performance?
“I feel really blessed to be playing football like that at such a young age. Kangin may have put in some effort, but I think Kangin is ‘born’. I was really envious of his natural ability, and I was really envious of being able to play like that at such a young age. As a fan, I am really looking forward to the future.”
Q. Did you expect Kyu-Sung Cho to perform well?
“I knew he was a good player, but I never thought he would perform so well. He has performed well on the big stage and is young, so I’m looking forward to it being helpful for Korean soccer in the future. I also joked around a lot. I joked, ‘You won’t be contacting me anymore?’ I want to watch it. haha.”
The power of ‘experience’
In the case of Kim Young-kwon, who is currently 32 years old, it is not guaranteed to play because he will turn 36 in four years, but considering that Pepe of Portugal and Dani Alves of Brazil were 39-year-old defenders in this World Cup, it is not impossible. Kim Young-kwon’s rich experience in international competitions, especially tournaments and various championships, can add concentration and weight to his national team. Of course, this is on the premise of maintaining your skills.
“Four years later is actually too far away, and I don’t know if I can do it then, but I think the next year and year will be important. The key is how to take care of your body and endure the 4 years well. I just want to challenge myself.”
Q. You say you were lucky to score in this World Cup, but isn’t luck also based on skill and experience?
“The fact that I was in the position where I shot was actually because I couldn’t see the ball, so I went there to see it, but maybe that’s also luck. haha. I guess I was just lucky with the timing because I didn’t expect the ball to fall like that in front of me.”
Q. Fans like that Ronaldo assisted with his back. How about saying thank you at this point?
“(Ho) Naldu hyung, although it was unintentional, I want to say thank you for being an assistant and I will continue to support you diligently. go for it!”
As long as it’s ‘winning’
On the way to the next World Cup, there is the Qatar Asian Cup (※ scheduled to be held in June next year, but there is a possibility of change in January next year). It is a tournament where the national team’s strength must be checked midway and challenged to reach the top of Asia, and it is meaningful to Kim Young-kwon as a veteran player of the national team in the past has used it as a retirement stage. Park Ji-sung and Lee Young-pyo returned the Taegeuk mark after finishing the 2011 Qatar tournament, Cha Doo-ri the 2015 Australian tournament, and Ki Sung-yong and Koo Ja-cheol the 2019 UAE tournament. Kim Yeong-kwon (※ 2nd place in the 2015 Australian Championship), who has not won the Asian Cup, is aiming for the championship (※ the national team last won the tournament in 1960). I plan to decide whether to continue the Taegeuk mark after running with the goal of winning. 토토
“It is regrettable that there is no Asian Cup championship trophy, so I really want to win it. I wonder if the coming Qatar Asian Cup will be an opportunity. Shouldn’t ‘Again 2022’ be held in Qatar?”
Q. Won’t you retire if you win the Qatar Asian Cup?
“It’s not impossible, but I still want to try. Participating in the World Cup 3 times and 4 times is a different story. So (to participate in the next World Cup) I am looking forward to it.”
Kim Young-kwon spent 7 years in Guangzhou, China, winning 8 league titles and 2 Asian Champions League titles, while playing for 5 years in Japan, playing for FC Tokyo, Omiya Ardija and Gamba Osaka. He returned to Korea earlier this year and gave Ulsan Hyundai a championship in 17 years. He won a bronze medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games with the under-23 national team, a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, and won the East Asian Cup in 2015 and 2019 with the national team.
He is praised for his calm and sensible defense and good foot skills. His sense of stability comes from his accumulated experiences. I think the experience made a miracle. As an asset of Korean football, I hope to pass on the experience and make it a long run.