South Korea coach Huh to step down

Huh Jung-mooSouth Korea's Huh Jung-moo said on Friday he was stepping down as national coach after his side were knocked out of the World Cup in the second round.

"I want to have time to retrace my path, study what we have to do for the future and recharge myself," the 55-year-old told a news conference in Seoul.

South Korea were knocked out of the World Cup in South Africa [  ] last weekend after a 2-1 defeat by Uruguay in the last 16.

"There are many great and capable experts in South Korea," added Huh, a tremendously popular figure among his players since taking charge of the side in late 2007.

"I think I should step aside and give them a chance," he added.

South Korea reached the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup as co-hosts under Dutchman Guus Hiddink [  ] but failed to capitalise on his success under four subsequent foreign coaches.

The 55-year-old Huh steadily won over his critics after initially being accused of playing "nihilistic football" in South Korea's hypercritical media.

After sealing South Korea's seventh successive World Cup appearance in an unbeaten qualifying campaign, Huh admitted his side were some way off reproducing their astonishing 2002 run.

"I felt that our players lag behind the world's football powerhouses, especially South American teams," said Huh, whose side conceded eight goals in four games.

"We are competitive enough in terms of physical and mental strength and organising ability. But technically it's impossible to win against them.

"Whatever I end up doing, I really hope that Korea will be able to play on the international stage and I want to contribute to South Korean football in any way I can," he added.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) will discuss Huh's successor next Wednesday with an eye on the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, South Korea's Yonhap news reported.

Former defender Hong Myung-bo, who led the country during their astonishing 2002 World Cup finals campaign, is among those in the frame for the head coach's job.

"Huh (showed) that a South Korean coach can make it to the second round," said Lee Hoi-taek, chief of KFA's technical panel.

"We will also consider recruiting foreign leaders, as Hiddink and (Dick) Advocaat ...played major roles in South Korea's football."

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