Klinsmann sacked as South Korea head coach after pre-cup bust-up

Former German football star Jurgen Klinsmann has been fired as head coach of the South Korean national team after a table tennis bust-up was blamed for the side’s semi-final exit from the Asian Cup.
Announcing his sacking following a turbulent 12-month tenure, top officials at the Korea Football Association (KFA) said he had failed to tackle infighting among the squad.

In a scathing assessment they said Klinsmann did not demonstrate leadership or live up to expectations, and it was felt he was unlikely to improve.
The 59-year-old was also accused of being “disrespectful” towards the Korean public by not spending enough time in the country.
Pressure had mounted on Klinsmann after South Korea’s surprise 2-0 defeat by Jordan last week, which extended their 64-year wait for another Asian Cup title. Jordan went on to lose 3-1 in the final against the hosts Qatar.

The upset followed media reports of a spat between captain Son Heung-min, who also captains Tottenham, and young star Lee Kang-in during the tournament.
The players are said to have quarrelled on the eve of the game during a team dinner, which left Son with an injured finger.
According to The Guardian, a football official said: “It happened when some young players went up to play table tennis, and Son and other older players took issue with it.
“The players exchanged a few words and Son hurt his finger in the process.”


Lee, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, subsequently apologised on Instagram for the incident.
He said: “We have caused great ­disappointment to the soccer fans who always support our national team. I’m really sorry.”

Image: Son Heung-Min, with an injured finger, looks dejected after his side’s exit from the Asian Cup. Pic: Reuters
Klinsmann had accepted responsibility for the team’s failure but did not offer to resign.
Jordan were ranked 87th in the world while ­Klinsmann’s side were 64 places above them.
After speaking to Klinsmann at his home in the United States via video call, the KFA’s technical director Hwangbo Kwan said: “For a number of reasons, we concluded that Klinsmann would no longer be able to show his leadership as head coach of the national team.
“There were opinions that Klinsmann failed to show his resolve to find new talent and that he failed to grasp internal conflict or mood among squad members.”
He added. “Also, there were opinions that Klinsmann has been disrespectful toward the Korean public by not spending enough time in the country.”

Image: KFA president Chung Mong-gyu says Klinsmann ‘did not live up to our expectations’. Pic: AP
The final decision was made by KFA president Chung Mong-gyu.
He said: “After a comprehensive review, the KFA has decided to change the head coach.
“When it comes to bringing out the best in the national team, managing players and his work habits, Klinsmann did not live up to our expectations of a national team head coach, nor did he demonstrate leadership.
“We decided that Klinsmann was unlikely to improve as head coach, in terms of his abilities and work ethic.”

Image: The KFA spoke to Klinsmann via video call at his home in the US. Pic: AP
Klinsmann, head coach of the US national team from 2011 to 2016, thanked his players in a social media post.
He wrote: “To all players, my coaching staff and all Korean football fans with sincere gratitude.
“Thank you so much for all your support taking us to the semi-final of the Asian Cup and an incredible journey over the last 12 months with not losing 13 games in a row before the semi-final.”
As well as his leadership and tactical skills, Klinsmann has been unpopular with fans for refusing to base himself in South Korea, in contrast to previous foreign coaches.

Klinsmann won the World Cup as a player and had success as coach of the German and US teams before taking on the role in South Korea.
Chung had also been criticised for the performance of the national team, his hiring of Klinsmann in February of last year and for his leadership.
He said association was not ready to announce a replacement for Klinsmann, whose contract was set to run until the end of the 2026 World Cup.
South Korea’s qualification campaign for that tournament continues in March with back-to-back games against Thailand.

Source : Sky News