South Korea appoints Cho Kwang-rae as coach

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SEOUL (Reuters) -- Cho Kwang-rae has been appointed coach of the South Korean national soccer team, the Korean Football Association (KFA) said on Wednesday.

Gyeongnam FC boss Cho replaces Huh Jung-moo, who stepped down after guiding the Asian side to the second round of the World Cup finals in South Africa last month.

"We had been looking into two or three candidates, including Cho, and the technical panel unanimously opted to select Cho as the next national team coach," chairman of the KFA's technical committee Lee Hoi-taek told the Yonhap News agency.

"Cho is enterprising and always trying to catch new trends of world football like England, Germany, Italy and Brazil."

The former South Korean midfielder, who won the Korean K-League title with Anyang Cheetahs in 2000, has signed a contract up until 2012, before the 2014 World Cup Asian qualifiers begin.

His first match in charge will be the home friendly against Nigeria on Aug. 11.

"It's a great honour to be the national team coach," Cho, 56, said.

"I'm not scared of taking the helm of the national team. I've been working hard to be a good leader. I want to make a team that will bring joy to the Korean people."

Cho's first major task will be to win the Asian Cup in Qatar, which begins in January.

The twice champions have been drawn with Australia, Bahrain and India in Group C of the 16-team tournament.

Cho, however, will not be allowed to combine the national team role with his club job as he had hoped.

"Cho asked us to allow him to hold two posts, but we concluded he can't," Lee said, giving the new manager until the friendly match against Japan on Oct. 12 to quit his club position.

His three year contract with Gyeongnam expires at the end of the current K-League season and the side are fourth in the 15-team league after 12 matches, one point behind leaders Jeju United. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email