S. Korea begins search for new men’s football team coach

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Seoul, July 18 (IANS) South Korea has begun its quest to find a new head coach for the men’s football team after suffering an early exit at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) on Wednesday confirmed that Kim Pan-gon, who leads the national team coach appointment committee, has returned from a trip to negotiate with foreign tacticians for the South Korean men’s national football team coaching job, reports Yonhap news agency.

The KFA has been keeping mum on Kim’s destinations and the coaches he has contacted.

What’s confirmed at this point is that Shin Tae-yong, who led South Korea at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is also listed as one of the candidates. Shin’s contract with the KFA expires at the end of this month, but if the 47-year-old is selected again, he’ll sign a new contract and retain his seat.

The KFA said Kim and his committee will evaluate Shin’s performance at the World Cup on Thursday. It added that Kim will soon create a shortlist of the candidates.

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With Shin at the helm, South Korea posted a win and two losses to suffer a group stage elimination at the World Cup in Russia. South Korea opened the tournament with a 0-1 loss to Sweden and then a 1-2 defeat to Mexico, putting Shin in hot water. The team bounced back, however, by stunning defending champions Germany 2-0 in the final group match.

Following the review of Shin’s performance in Russia, Kim said the World Cup was “neither a success nor a failure” for South Korea.

In this regard, Kim insisted that Shin will be at the same starting line as everyone else, saying: “Just because we didn’t renew his contract (at this point), it doesn’t mean we didn’t give him a vote of confidence.”

Before leaving the country, Kim said that the KFA has shortlisted “fewer than 10 candidates” for the position and hopes to finalize the process before friendly matches in September.

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Speculation has been rising over South Korea’s selection for the new coach, with local media releasing reports with names like Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to victory in the 2002 World Cup, and Vahid Halilhodzic, former Japan head coach. The KFA, however, denied approaching these coaches, asking for the local press’ cooperation in not releasing speculative reports.

Kim did mention criteria for the coach selection. He said that South Korea will try to find a coach who can meet the quality of the country’s national team that has reached the World Cup finals nine consecutive times.

Pundits said that South Korea will have to bring in a coach — whether local or foreign — who can create a legacy and add assets for South Korean football like Dutchman Guus Hiddink did in 2002.

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South Korea reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals under Hiddink, the best performance by an Asian country in the tournament’s history.

“We had success with Hiddink at the 2002 World Cup, but his training methods and tactics helped South Korean football even after he left our national team,” said Hahn June-hea, an analyst at local broadcaster KBS. He is also a member of a subcommittee under the national team coach appointment committee.

“Our national team getting good results is important, but we also need a coach who can change and upgrade the country’s football in general,” he said.

Pundits, however, have warned that impressive resumes don’t always mean success. Although high-profile coaches will cost a lot of money for the KFA, experts said what really matters is that their style and experience matches South Korean football.

–IANS

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