S. Korea to interview 11 candidates for men’s nat’l football team coaching vacancy

SEOUL, South Korea’s football federation will interview 11 candidates, including seven foreign nationals, for the men’s national team coaching vacancy, a senior official said Tuesday, with the goal of hiring the new boss by mid-May at the latest.

Chung Hae-sung, head of the National Teams Committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA), said the list of candidates was whittled down from 32 to 11 following his committee’s meeting earlier Tuesday.

“We will have in-depth interviews with these 11 candidates and try to name the new coach by early or middle of May,” Chung told reporters, after presiding over the fifth round of the committee’s meetings on naming the new head coach.

The position has been vacant since the KFA fired Jurgen Klinsmann on Feb. 16, in the aftermath of South Korea’s semifinal loss at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup.

Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the men’s under-23 national team, filled in as a caretaker manager for the senior team’s two World Cup qualifying matches last mo
nth. Chung thanked Hwang for holding the fort while guiding South Korea to a win and a draw in a home-and-away series against Thailand. But Chung denied rumors that Hwang, who will coach South Korea at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament later this month, is in line to take over the senior team job after the Paris Summer Games.

Chung did not name any of the 11 candidates but acknowledged that Hwang “may have an opportunity” to earn the full-time senior squad coaching job.

Chung said the KFA will hold online interviews with the seven foreign candidates, and members of his committee have already begun analyzing those candidates’ tactics and philosophies through match videos. The KFA will meet with the four South Korean candidates after its interviews with foreign hopefuls are finished, though Chung insisted it doesn’t mean the KFA prefers one group over the other.

“We just have more information on South Korean candidates than we do on foreign candidates,” Chung said. “It’s logistically difficult for me t
o travel overseas to meet all of those seven candidates. We will have online interviews now, and then once we narrow down the list further, then I will have a chance to interview candidates in person.”

The last two national team coaches have both been foreign nationals, with Klinsmann succeeding Paulo Bento, who coached South Korea to the round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The KFA has employed several other foreign-born coaches over the years, to varying degrees of success.

“We will try to share the KFA’s vision on techniques and philosophy with the candidates, and we will hire the person that we think will be the best fit,” Chung said. “We will consider how much conviction the candidate has in his own philosophy. With foreign candidates, we will see how well the new coach can fit in with Korean football culture.”

Without revealing names, Chung said the list of South Korean candidates includes coaches currently working in the K League. The KFA faced some heat in February for apparently contacting curr
ent K League head coaches for the national team job only days before the start of the new K League campaign. Chung admitted that poaching a coach from a K League club in May, as opposed to February, would still upset the team’s players and supporters, but asked them for their understanding.

“I think coaching the national team is a way of serving Korean football, and it’s an honorable position for coaches,” Chung said, recalling his own days of coaching national squads in different age groups. “When a coach leaves a club in the middle of a season, it’ll obviously be a tough situation for that team. But we will make sure to have close communication with the club if it comes to that, and we will try to be respectful to the club’s supporters.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency