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“I feel much relieved that he can make a fresh start,” Hong said. “Park will have to show a good performance in the coming matches.”

If the coach can persuade Park Ji-sung to return to the national team then the mood will improve overnight. In January, the 2002 captain declared he will meet his former team-mate who retired from the international game in January 2011.

Despite discouraging comments from Park’s management, Hong plans to travel to the Netherlands in February, where the former Manchester United star is playing for PSV Eindhoven.