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S.Korea searching for new coach after sacking of Park

© Reuters 2002

SEOUL, Oct 21 (Reuters) - South Korea's football body said on Monday it was searching for a new coach to lead the national team for the 2004 Olympics, after firing Park Hang-seo shortly after the Asian Games.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) dismissed Park over the weekend, holding him accountable for a poor showing in the Pusan Asian Games early this month where the side lost to Iran and ended up getting bronze medal.

"Our committee members will select candidates and review them soon," Kim Jin-kook, head of the KFA's Technical Committee told Reuters. Park was the assistant and successor to Dutchman Guus Hiddink who had guided South Korea to a stunning fourth place in the FIFA World Cup" this summer.

The association said it would give priority to Koreans with no professional background to replace Park, but if there were no qualified candidates among the nationals it would consider hiring a foreigner.

Park had joined the national team for one and half a year serving as a assistant coach, and was supposed to coach the team until the 2004 Olympics.

He had also been in dispute with the KFA and was given a warning in September about defaming the football body, which was also behind the dismissal, the KFA said.

It dismissed a possibility that former head coach Guus Hiddink might return to take up the old role.

"He (Hiddink) has already been contracted with the Netherlands' professional league," said Lee Sang-ho, a director of the KFA.

Hiddink returned to his homeland to coach PSV Eindhoven, but has signed a contract with the KFA to serve as a technical adviser to the national team for two years.

KFA retained the primary right to negotiate when Hiddink's contract with Eindhoven expires in 2004.

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