SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea have replaced suspended head coach Yun Jong-su with his predecessor Jo Tong-sop for next month’s Asian Cup campaign in Australia.
Yun was banned for 12 months by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) earlier this month for “offensive behaviour” during the Asian Games final in South Korea where they lost 1-0 to the hosts.
Yun and the North Korean bench remonstrated with officials after the match and accused referees of favouring their bitter rivals South Korea, who they are still technically at war with.
Yun’s ban meant the former international was not allowed to enter the dressing room or the area surrounding the field of play but could still attend training sessions and undertake other football-related activities, the AFC said.
North Korea, who will compete in their fourth Asian Cup in Australia, did not respond to requests from Reuters to confirm the switch but the AFC said Jo had been registered as head coach for the Jan. 9-31 tournament.
Jo led the highly secretive North at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar but departed shortly after following a group stage exit.
The North will do well to better than mark in Australia, having been drawn in a tough looking Group B alongside Uzbekistan, China and Saudi Arabia.
The North qualified for the 16-team finals after winning the now defunct Challenge Cup for emerging nations in 2012, under the guidance of Yun.
It was unclear whether Yun, in his second spell in charge, would resume his role as head coach of the North when his AFC suspension ended next year.