Koreans turn to Huh
© AFP

Korea Republic on Friday appointed former national coach Huh Jung-Moo to the post for a second time after two high-profile foreign candidates turned them down.

Huh takes over at a testing time, with the game on a slide since the glory days of the 2002 FIFA World Cup when the South Koreans reached the semi-finals. Huh played as a midfielder for PSV Eindhoven and led the Chunnam Dragons to win the country's most prestigious tournament, the FA Cup, in 2006 and 2007.

The national post has been vacant since July when Dutchman Pim Verbeek resigned following a disappointing third-place showing at the AFC Asian Cup. The Korean Football Association said on Wednesday it had narrowed its choice down to France's Gerard Houllier or English-born Mick McCarthy, but both decided not to take the job.

"This will be the last chapter in my football life," said Huh, 52. "I will put in all my energy to achieve good results in the World Cup. I am honoured and at the same time I feel heavy with the burden," added Huh, who coached both the national and Olympic teams between 1998 and 2000.

Asked why local football has been weak since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Huh said players, coaches and the football association should share responsibility. "We have to pull ourselves up again and we must start all over again."

Huh is charged with ensuring Korea Republic make the FIFA World Cup finals in 2010, starting with qualifying in February next year. They have been drawn against arch-rivals Korea DPR, Turkmenistan and Jordan.