Spanish coach believes Korea will succeed at World Cup

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Spanish coach believes Korea will succeed at World Cup

Toni Grande, the chief assistant coach of the Korean men’s national football team, said during a coaching clinic on Tuesday that he thinks Korea can reach the knockout stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup if they prepare for the tournament with a positive mindset.


Korean national football team assistant coaches Toni Grande, left, and Javier Minano speak at a football clinic in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

The 70-year-old Spaniard joined the Korean team in November 2017 with a superb resume. Grande, who was part of Spain’s national football team that won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 UEFA European Championship, said Korea should not give up hope of reaching the round of 16 at the upcoming World Cup.

“South Korea is a team that produced promising results in the past, such as reaching the round of 16 on foreign soil,” Grande told reporters after finishing his coaching clinic for local football instructors in Cheonan, South Chungcheong. “Their group stage opponents Germany, Sweden and Mexico are not easy teams, but if we can prepare with a positive mindset, I think advancing to the round of 16 is possible.”

Grande, a former Real Madrid midfielder, said what Korea needs at this moment is unity.

“I also think it’s critical for us to show consistency in our defense,” he said.

Grande mainly worked with renowned Spanish tactician Vicente Del Bosque throughout his coaching career. He was first team assistant for Real Madrid and Besiktas before joining the Spain national team in 2008. Grande also worked with big-name coaches like Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink and John Toshack and won three UEFA Champions League titles.

For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Grande will assist Shin Tae-yong, who has been leading Korea since last July.

Shin’s side lost two World Cup warm-up matches against European opponents last month. After suffering a 2-1 defeat to Northern Ireland, Korea fell 3-2 to Poland. In both matches, Korea surrendered the decisive goal in the very last phase of the game.

“I think we weren’t bad against Northern Ireland and Poland,” he said. “At the World Cup, if we concede late goals, that will directly lead us to defeat. We don’t have enough time until the World Cup, but we’ll fix those problems.”

Grande said new rules applied at the World Cup, such as use of video assistant referees and electronic and communication equipment, can help Korea.

“We’re seeing developments in technology and analyzing devices,” he said. “We’ve tested those electronic equipments in recent friendlies, and we hope we can see some positive results at the World Cup.”

At the coaching clinic, Grande talked about his experience, philosophy and coaching technique to some 200 South Korean football coaches and instructors.

“I think the most important thing for a coach is that you have to listen carefully,” he said. “In particular, it’s important to listen and accept the players’ opinions.”

Grande was accompanied by Javier Minano, a fitness coach for the national team who also had stints with Real Madrid and Besiktas under Del Bosque.

Minano said he is carefully managing the national players’ fitness and stamina.

“Instead of just running a lot, I’m trying to help the players to run efficiently on the pitch,” he said.

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