Jürgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the South Korean national soccer team, has emphasized the need for everyone to be in a positive mood in order to win the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2024.
Klinsmann, along with the rest of the Korean national team, returned from England on Thursday via Incheon International Airport Terminal 2. Klinsmann returned from England after playing the Wales-Saudi Arabia two-game series in September during the A-match period.
Initially, the Korean national team, along with Saudi Arabia, were scheduled to play an exhibition match against CONCACAF powerhouse Mexico in September, but when Mexico changed its mind about broadcasting the match in its home country, Korea and Saudi Arabia decided to play each other instead of Mexico.
Klinsmann’s men played their first A match of the month against Wales in Cardiff City, England, on Aug. 8, drawing 0-0. On the 13th, the team traveled to St. James’ Park in Newcastle, northeast England, to face Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, where striker Cho Kyu-sung saved a late penalty for a 1-0 victory and Klinsmann’s first win after three draws and two losses.
Klinsmann’s debut victory was not without controversy. Instead of traveling to Korea with the Taegeuk Warriors, Klinsmann chose to stay in Europe and watch the Bayern Munich-Bayer Leverkusen match in the German Bundesliga at 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 16.
The KFA also reported that Klinsmann was scheduled to watch a Bayern Munich match in the Bundesliga this week and visit European clubs to meet with officials. This meant that Klinsmann would be analyzing the coaching staff in Europe before returning to Korea for the October A match.
The reason given was that it was a European inspection, but Korean fans were not convinced. Fans were baffled by the decision to reassess a defender who had been used as a starter in two A matches just days earlier.
It’s not as if Kim’s role at Bayern Munich is different from that of the national team, nor has he been relegated to the bench, and he’s been solidly established since his arrival, so why would he need another review?
The fans’ reaction didn’t come out of nowhere; it was an outburst of anger that had been building. Klinsmann, who has been in charge of the Taegeuk Warriors since February, has spent more time abroad, including the United States, than in South Korea, sparking a “telecommuting” controversy. “It is estimated that Klinsmann has spent only 67 days in South Korea in the past six months since taking charge of the national team,” the BBC noted.
The K League observation was left to advisor Cha Doo-ri and coach Michael Kim, while Klinsmann worked with the national team in Europe and the United States. During his time in the U.S., Klinsmann appeared as a panelist on soccer programs for global sports outlet ESPN and Spanish publication AS, analyzing and evaluating Premier League teams, including Tottenham, and assessing trends in Harry Kane and Lionel Messi. He even predicted a win or loss in some matches, which is an unusual move for a coach of the South Korean national team that reached the round of 16 at the World Cup.
He also attended the UEFA Champions League draw for the 2023/24 season in Monaco, France on the 1st of September ahead of the A match, and before that, he visited his former club AS Monaco in the French Ligue 1 for an interview, which is hard to believe for a national team coach.
Klinsmann even stirred up controversy during the A-match. On the 10th, between Wales and Saudi Arabia, a ‘Legends Match’ was held at Stamford Bridge in London, England, between Chelsea Legends and Bayern Munich Legends, and Klinsmann was invited to play as a Munich Legend.
Immediately after a disastrous performance against Wales, it is unprecedented and shocking for a national team manager to leave camp and play in a legends match against his former club during an A-match. It’s even harder when public opinion is not in your favor.
After the controversy erupted over Klinsmann’s inclusion in the roster released by Chelsea, the organizers of the event, on July 7, the Korean Football Association emphasized on July 8 that Klinsmann’s participation was not true. However, Klinsmann himself disagreed and thought that there was nothing wrong with participating in the Legends Match during a break in his stay in England. In the end, his absence from the Legends Match was finally confirmed when Klinsmann’s name was removed from the Munich roster released at 1:40 a.m. on the 10th. However, the decision to cancel his participation has also been criticized as a ‘maneuver’. It means that the worst has been avoided, but the trust of the public and soccer fans has already been lost.
Perhaps sensing this, Klinsmann abruptly changed his plans.
“We decided to change the schedule at today’s coaching staff meeting to start the work of checking the K League players before the October roster announcement,” the KFA explained. Klinsmann returned to South Korea in front of Korean fans and media for the first time since August.
Upon his return from Saudi Arabia, Klinsmann and the team will play their first game on Oct. 13 against Tunisia, a North African powerhouse that beat France in the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar, followed by Vietnam on Oct. 17. Kickoff time is 8 p.m. for both matches. The venues are Seoul World Cup Stadium for the Tunisia game and Suwon World Cup Stadium for the Vietnam game.
After the October A matches, Korea will begin the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. On November 16, they will play their first Group C match at home, with their opponent yet to be determined. They will face the winner of Guam-Singapore on October 12 and 17 in a home-and-home format. Singapore is ranked 158th in the FIFA rankings, while Guam is 204th, giving Singapore the objective advantage. The team will next travel to China on Nov. 21 for their second Group C match.
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say
-How does it feel to be on Korean soil for the first time since early August?
It’s great to be here (in Korea). I wish I could have seen you guys in England. Every time we’ve convened, I’ve felt good and found a lot of positives. We’ve been here in March, June and September, and I’ve seen how much we’ve improved internally and how much we’ve gone through the process towards the Asian Cup. Playing in Cardiff and Newcastle, we’ve grown and improved and we’ve had discussions with the coaching staff about how to prepare for the next call-up.
-You changed your schedule to come to Korea. What made you change your schedule?
I heard that a lot of people were waiting for me. I heard a lot of stories from the KFA, and when I heard that usually when the players return home from an overseas trip, the coach comes back with them, I thought twice. I was scheduled to watch the Bayern Munich-Leverkusen match this week, so I thought it would be a good idea to travel with the team instead of changing the schedule.
I’m also looking forward to meeting some of you at the K League this weekend. When I was working in Germany or the United States, when I went abroad, I was rarely welcomed by many people, so it’s a new experience. It’s a new experience to be welcomed by so many people after a friendly match, so I’ve changed my schedule.
-What’s next, are you going to be traveling again?
I have a schedule of traveling back and forth. There are matches to watch abroad, but there is not much time left before the October A match, so after the game in England, I have to prepare and analyze the next opponent with the coaching staff. As we all know, there are only two friendlies left. After the October friendlies, we’re going straight into the World Cup qualifiers, so we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to prepare, how we’re going to line up, how we’re going to set up the team. After October, we’re going to the (2026 North and Central American) World Cup qualifiers and the Asian Cup, so I’m thinking that I have to do a good job with the guys.
The fact that Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) and Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) joined the squad for this call-up was a big boost. It helped us a lot as a team. It’s important for them to be healthy, but again, time is running out. We need to continue to analyze our A-match opponents internally and prepare for the upcoming ones.
-Public opinion (against Klinsmann) is pretty bad. Have you heard about this, and if so, what are your thoughts?
First of all, we have a very positive and developing team atmosphere. In March, we were with the same players that were at the World Cup, and then in June and September we had a lot of changes. In June, we lost some key players and we were tested with some new players, and with every call-up, we have new players coming in, and we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to fit together and how we’re going to build and develop and grow on the road to the Asian Cup in Qatar.
It’s also positive because with each call-up, the players are getting a better understanding of what our coaching staff wants and how we want to operate. It’s not long until the Asian Cup, but our ‘benchmark’ is the Asian Cup. We are confident that we will do well at the Asian Cup, and we have high expectations, but until then, it will be about how we prepare and analyze our opponents’ key players. In the meantime, we are going through a positive growth process.
When it comes to building a team at the association level, there are bound to be a lot of changes after a big tournament to prepare for the next one. It would be nice to satisfy everyone, but I think you can only be judged by your results at the big tournament. How we grow as a team and how we prepare for the next competition after the big competition is important. It’s important because we’ve been practicing since November. We may not be satisfied with our performance in the A-match, but we will prepare well for the Asian Cup by putting the best players in the squad so that we can perform well with the best squad.
-He has emphasized the Asian Cup since he took over. Whether you’re based in Korea or abroad, the fans want results, so is it fair to say that your job depends on the outcome of the Asian Cup?
Again, the Asian Cup is the ‘benchmark’. The coaching staff and players are also preparing with the Asian Cup as a ‘benchmark’, and of course, if the results are not good, fans and media will ask questions and criticize, and it is a test. This is the fate of a coach. But I have a lot of experience in tournaments, both as a player and as a manager, including the World Cup, and I enjoy tournaments. So I have experience in how to prepare and organize a team for a tournament, so I have the idea of putting together a good team in good shape.
The most important thing is for the players to go to the Asian Cup healthy. Son Heung-min and Kim Min-jae are not 100%, Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton Wanderers) has a hamstring injury, and Lee Kang-in (PSG) is out right now. If we can get these guys healthy and ready to go to Qatar with the best possible team, I think we can do well.
After a big tournament, I think we need to have a lot of positive publicity and strength to prepare for the next one, and only then can we be successful. No matter how strong we are internally and how many positive messages we send out, if external factors or people continue to create negative public opinion, the team is bound to falter. I think a great example of this is the German national team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Everything about them was negative before they went to the World Cup, and they ended up getting knocked out in the group stage and sent home.
The players need to be fed by positive public opinion, atmosphere, and energy. Especially with the national team, they are the people’s team, they represent the country, so it helps to create a positive atmosphere together. I think when you don’t perform or you don’t get the results you want, you should be criticized, you should be blamed, you should be criticized. What I’m saying is that I think if we can create a positive atmosphere with everyone before we go to Qatar, we can get good results.소닉카지노
-There are rumors of interest from the German national soccer team. What would you do if a real offer came in?
For now, I will focus on bringing home the Asian Cup. I hope to be there with all of you at the Asian Cup.
-You asked Aaron Ramsey (Cardiff City) for a jersey against Wales. Did you get the jersey?
I actually got it from a team physio who has a son (Jonathan Klinsmann, LA Galaxy). I didn’t expect it to be such a big deal, but the sad part is that after the story broke, my son received some bad words and criticism on social media. In my 40 years of soccer, I have received many jerseys over the years.
-There’s been talk that Lee’s club (PSG) will delay his release for the Asian Cup.
I haven’t heard anything like that. I’ve heard that he’s recovering, and I’ve been talking and texting with Luis Enrique. It’s not a big deal because the Asian Cup is the timeframe that FIFA (International Football Federation) allows you to send (players) out anyway.