The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
South Korea coach to lobby Park Ji-sung to return to national team for World Cup
South Korea football coach Hong Myong-bo said he's planning to lobby former Manchester United star Park Ji-sung to return to the national team to play in this year's World Cup, Korean media reported Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Park, now with PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league, ended his international career after leading South Korea to the semifinals of the Asian Cup in January 2011. He has said repeatedly since then through representatives that he has no intention of returning to the international game.
Hong said, however, he wants to hear it directly from Park.
"I have only heard through people surrounding Park Ji-sung that will not play for the national team," Hong said.
Hong was Park's captain when South Korea reached the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup and was appointed to the national team coaching position in July. The former defender is searching for experience to compliment what is expected to be one of the youngest squads to play in the World Cup in June.
South Korea has been drawn to play Belgium, Russia and Algeria in Group H.
"We need some older players," Hong said, using the 2010 World Cup team led by Park as an example. "That team was a good combination of youth and experience."
Hong said last week that he was certain of 80 per cent of his final 23 players, leaving Korean media to speculate as to who is in contention for the available five or six spots.
The team heads to Brazil later this month for an eight-day training camp before travelling to the United States for warm-up games against the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica.
Park, who has played in the three World Cups, left Manchester United in the summer of 2012 after seven seasons to make an ill-fated move to Queens Park Rangers. After the team's relegation from the English Premier League, Park was loaned to PSV Eindhoven, the team he joined in 2003.
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