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Two S. Korean head coaches meet in final of Asian Women's Handball Championship
SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- Two South Korean head coaches will clash for the title at the ongoing Asian Women's Handball Championship in Kazakhstan.

   In the championship match scheduled for Christmas Day, South Korea, coached by Kang Jae-won, will take on the home side Kazakhstan, whose head coach is South Korean Yoon Tae-il. South Korea is gunning for its third straight continental title and 11th overall while Kazakhstan is seeking its second.

   Kang and Yoon are both former national team members. With Kang providing offense from the right back position and Yoon holding down the fort in net as the starting goalkeeper, South Korea won gold at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

   Kang only took over the South Korean team at the end of November, after the country failed to win gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games. It was the first time the country failed to win a women's handball gold at an Asiad.

   Yoon is more experienced with his current team, having been with the Kazakhs since 2005. Kang said such experience could be an advantage for his opponents.

  

South Korea's Woo Sun-hee goes for a shot on Dec. 22 against Japan at the Asian Women's Handball Championship in Kazakhstan. (Yonhap)



"I understand (coach Yoon) has done a wonderful job in Kazakhstan over those years," Kang said. "They have many tall players and so when we slow down the game, we have to find the perfect opportunity to score. Our players have great handball sense and should be able to steal a few balls to set up fast breaks."

   At the Guangzhou Asian Games, South Korea defeated Kazakhstan twice: 25-17 in the preliminary round and 38-26 in the bronze medal match.

   But the Kazakhs have been on a roll before the home fans at this tournament. They're the only team to win four straight games, with three wins in the group stage and the 29-24 semifinal win over the Asian Games gold medal-winning Japan. South Korea only managed a 22-22 draw against Japan in their group match.

   Yoon said he doesn't feel too comfortable having to go up against the country of his birth but his competitive fire will get the better of him.

   "It's a competition and of course, I want to win," he said. "I will try my best to help my team win the championship."

   For the Asian championship, South Korea replaced five players from Guangzhou and they have only had about two weeks to practice together. Two key offensive members, Lee Eun-bi and Ryu Eun-hee, are out with knee and finger injuries, respectively.

   Kang is also wary of Kazakhstan's home-court advantage. The Kazakhs' only other Asian title came in 2002, when the championship was also staged in Almaty.

   "Perhaps referees will make some calls in favor of Kazakhstan," Kang said. "We must make sure the players stay focused on the game at hand and if there's anything to argue, the bench will take care of that."

   Both Kang and Yoon boast solid international coaching resumes. Kang was the assistant for the South Korean men's team in 1995 and then head coach for the U.S. women in 1999 and for the Chinese women in 2007.

   Yoon began his coaching career in the South Korean semi-pro league after the Seoul Olympics, and took the helm with the national women's team for the world championships in 1993, 1995 and 2003, and also at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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