South Korean football decides to hire foreign head coach

July 31, 2014

(Yonhap) — South Korea will seek to hire a foreign head coach to fill the vacancy on the men’s senior national football team, the sport’s technical director said Thursday.

Lee Yong-soo, who was named the new head of the technical committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA) last week, said at a press conference that he has narrowed down candidates for the top coaching job in South Korean football to three foreign nationals.

“We’ve shortlisted three coaches based on specific criteria, and all three are from overseas,” Lee said. “One South Korean coach met our criteria, but our committee decided to keep him off the list this time.”

Lee chaired his first meeting with his seven new committee members over the past two days at the National Football Center (NFC) here in Paju, north of Seoul. Lee called the press conference at the NFC to discuss the results of the session.

Lee said the committee reviewed 17 South Korean and 30 international candidates based on eight criteria. Lee said the candidates must have had coaching experience at continental competitions, such as the Asian Cup or the European Championship, and also must have coached in the regional qualifying rounds for the FIFA World Cup or have led a country to at least the round of 16 at the World Cup finals.

Lee said the new coach will lead South Korea through the Asian qualifications for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The final regional qualification round will wrap up in 2017.

“The KFA will begin serious negotiations with the three candidates next week,” Lee added. “We will not identify those candidates at this time.”

Lee had said earlier the cost would be a matter of concern when hiring a foreign coach, but explained on Thursday the salary wasn’t an issue when shortlisting candidates.

“The issue of wage will be further discussed during negotiations between the KFA and the candidates,” Lee added.

The main responsibility of the technical committee is to nominate national team head coaches in different age groups. The position on the senior national team has been vacant for three weeks, since Hong Myung-bo resigned to take the fall for South Korea’s winless exit out of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

During his inaugural press conference Monday, Lee had said some coaches have approached him with interest in the position but declined to elaborate further.

Lee, who had also served in the same role in 2002, and his committee are pressed for time. South Korea has scheduled a friendly match against Venezuela on Sept. 5 and against Uruguay three days later in preparation for January’s Asian Cup in Australia, the next major international competition.

Lee has previously said he will take his time to find the right person for the job, adding that having an interim coach for the two September matches is a possibility.

Lee said the successful candidate must have a strong track record either at club level or at international competitions, and also must possess leadership skills.

Before the 2002 World Cup, Lee was responsible for bringing the Dutch coach Guus Hiddink on board. Hiddink led South Korea, a co-host of the tournament with Japan, to the semifinals, and remains the most successful coach for South Korea.

Since Hiddink, foreign coaches have had mixed results on the South Korean bench. Dick Advocaat, from the Netherlands, coached South Korea at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. South Korea earned its first away World Cup victory but fell short of making it to the round of 16.

Humberto Coelho of Portugal, and the two Dutchmen, Jo Bonfrere and Pim Verbeek, each lasted about a year as the head coach here.