In about-face, football federation seeking temporary coach for men’s nat’l team: source

February 26, 2024

The South Korean football governing body may hire a temporary coach to lead the men’s national team for the next two matches before hiring a full-time bench boss, a source familiar with the development said Saturday.

It represents an about-face for the National Teams Committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA), which had earlier said it would seek a full-time replacement for Jurgen Klinsmann to fill the national squad vacancy.

The KFA fired Klinsmann on Feb. 16, in light of South Korea’s semifinal exit at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup in Qatar. And with two World Cup qualifying matches against Thailand coming up in March, there had been speculation that the KFA would first appoint a caretaker boss and then take its time finding a full-time head coach.

Chung Hae-sung, the new head of the committee and the person in charge of the hiring process, said Wednesday that his committee members would rather not go with a temporary coach. Chung said few, if any, candidates would agree to the short-term position and the national team would need some stability given the recent mess.

Over the ensuing days, though, the committee faced heat for trying to poach a coach under contract with a club in the domestic K League 1. Fans of teams whose coaches were in the rumor mill for the national team job have condemned the KFA’s lack of respect for the league. Among the coaches being bandied about are Hong Myung-bo of Ulsan HD FC and Kim Hak-bum of Jeju United.

According to the source, Chung and his members had a change of heart after their second meeting Saturday. They decided that there wouldn’t be enough time to go through a thorough background check before appointing a new full-time boss.

The K League 1 season kicks off next Friday. South Korea will play Thailand in Seoul on March 21 and then in Bangkok on March 26.