SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON is heading to East Asia this week to hold final talks on a deal that could result in the former England manager becoming the coach of North Korea at next year’s World Cup.Peter Trembling, the executive chairman at Notts County, where Eriksson is director of football, is understood to have been involved in talks with representatives of the Football Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The tenure is expected to be a loan deal.The process is now advanced enough for Trembling and Eriksson to be travelling to Beijing this week on an eight-day trip. The club chairman is also expected to discuss Chinese business investment opportunities in Qadbak, the British Virgin Islands-registered investment vehicle that owns County.A source confirmed the trip to East Asia was going ahead and did not deny that Eriksson’s stewardship of the world’s 90th-ranked team was under discussion. North Korea’s embassy in London suggested there might be an announcement in ”two or three weeks”.Like Russia’s well-travelled coach, Guus Hiddink, and the England manager, Fabio Capello, Eriksson is increasingly an international hand for hire. Having spent five years as England manager from 2001, the Swede had 10 turbulent months as Mexico’s coach, ending in April this year. If Eriksson says yes, it will mean he takes the reins in the Koreans’ first World Cup finals since reaching the last eight in 1966.Qualification for the tournament in South Africa next year was confirmed with a 0-0 draw in Saudi Arabia in June and, despite Kim Jong-hun’s achievements as coach, he has not escaped criticism. His team emerged alongside South Korea from their group despite scoring only seven goals in eight games.Although clearly the foundation stone of Kim’s success, that defensive solidity has been attacked by influential voices in North Korean football who consider that it would invite pressure from more powerful teams at the finals tournament.Pak Doo-ik, who scored in the 1-0 defeat of Italy in 1966 that took North Korea to the quarter-finals, believes the 5-4-1 formation favoured by Kim is flawed.”Despite reaching the World Cup, we are still far from becoming a world-class team,” he has said. ”We will have our work cut out and there are still huge areas in which to improve, including in defence, creating chances and putting them away.”Although it would be a football fairytale for Eriksson and the players involved, the development would lead to criticism of Trembling’s willingness to interact with a country with a poor human rights record. There will also be questions about what fee Notts County’s owners, Qadbak, might be receiving from a nation which has test-fired intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear bomb.Eriksson will be aware of the challenge in football terms with the team he is set to lead after it had a training camp in France this month that included a 0-0 draw against the French second division side Nantes. Guardian
Nanjing Night Net