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Korean football federation holds meeting on Klinsmann’s fate as nat’l team coach

Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the  Korean men's national football team, listens to a question from a reporter at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, Feb. 8. Yonhap

The Korean football federation held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of the beleaguered men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.The National Team Committee of the Korea Football Association (KFA) met at the KFA headquarters in Seoul to review Korea’s performance at the recent Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup. Michael Muller, head of the committee, and eight of his members were on hand, with Klinsmann attending via a video conference from his U.S. home.Klinsmann has been under fire to sportstotozonecom resign since Korea lost to Jordan 2-0 in the semifinals of the Asian Cup last week in Qatar. Despite fielding a talented squad, featuring the likes of Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Lee Kang-in of Paris Saint-Germain, Korea failed to record a shot on goal in the shock loss. Jordan came into the match sitting 64 places below Korea in the FIFA rankings at No. 87.The German coach, though, has defied calls to step down, saying he wanted to stay on to lead South Korea through the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. His contract, signed in February 2023, runs through the big tournament.After the meeting, which is expected to run into early Thursday afternoon, Kwan Hwang-bo, the KFA’s technical director, will speak to the media.The National Team Committee is not a decision-making body and it can only make recommendations on what the KFA should do with Klinsmann. Once that suggestion is made, the pressure will squarely be on the shoulders of KFA President Chung Mong-gyu to reach the final decision.

Even before the Asian Cup, Klinsmann faced criticism for his lack of tactical acumen. His work habits have also been questioned, as Klinsmann has spent more time overseas than in Korea. Klinsmann has made frequent trips to Europe to check on Korean players there, but his detractors have said the coach should be scouting domestic league players instead and not spend so much time watching players whose places on the national team are already well established. Chung himself has been in the hot seat in recent days. Several protesters set up camp outside the KFA office Thursday morning to demand his resignation over hiring Klinsmann in the first place.The post-Asian Cup saga took a bizarre turn on Wednesday, when the KFA confirmed British media reports that Son had dislocated his finger in a dustup with Lee on the eve of the semifinal match.More details of the incident emerged later Wednesday. According to sources familiar with the case, Lee, 22, and some other younger members of the team finished their team dinner early to play table tennis, while Son, the 31-year-old team captain, wanted to use the meal as an opportunity for team bonding before a big match.

A scuffle ensued when Lee refused Son’s order to rejoin the team dinner. Per sources, Son grabbed Lee by the collar of his shirt and Lee threw a punch in Son’s direction but didn’t connect. Son then suffered his finger injury when teammates tried to separate him and Lee.Son played the Jordan match with his right index and middle fingers strapped together.Sources said some veteran players, though not Son, asked Klinsmann to keep Lee off the squad for the semifinals. Lee started and played the full match.Lee issued an apology for his role in the row on social media late Wednesday.The incident hinted at a team chemistry problem and also at Klinsmann’s failure to keep things in order in the locker room.Protesters calling for Klinsmann’s and Chung’s heads also accused the KFA of leaking the story of the players’ blowup to media in order to distract the public from larger problems at hand.Korea’s last Asian Cup title came in 1960.Time is not on South Korea’s side to make a coaching change, if Klinsmann were to be sacked in the coming days. They are scheduled to play two World Cup qualifying matches against Thailand, home and away, on March 스포츠토토존 21 and 26


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