S. Korean football chief holds meeting on fate of Klinsmann as nat’l team head coach

In his first appearance since South Korea's elimination from the top Asian football tournament last week, Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), met with senior executives Friday to determine Jurgen Klinsmann's fate as head coach of the men's national team. Chung and nine members of the leadership group gathered at the KFA House in Seoul for a meeting at 10 a.m. They were to review the recommendation made by the KFA's National Team Committee on Thursday to fire Klinsmann, in light of South Korea's disappointing semifinal exit from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup last week in Qatar. South Korea, then ranked No. 23, lost to 87th-ranked Jordan 2-0 on Feb. 6 without recording a shot on target. Chung was in attendance for that match. They were trying to win the country's first AFC title since 1960, and Klinsmann quickly started hearing calls to resign for wasting what many observers felt was a golden generation of South Korean football talent. Klinsmann's squad fea tured Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lee Kang-in and Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae, among others. The National Team Committee is an advisory group that discusses issues related to national team operations and makes recommendations as necessary. Chung will have the final say, but the much-maligned KFA leader has also been under pressure to resign for hiring Klinsmann in February last year. About 90 minutes before the start of the meeting, the KFA said it wasn't immediately clear if Chung would be able to reach his decision by the day's end, and even if he does, whether he will announce that decision at a press conference or in some other form. Chung was absent when a few senior executives, including technical director Hwangbo Kwan and National Team Committee head Michael Muller, met for a brief postmortem on the Asian Cup on Tuesday. The KFA explained that the meeting mostly featured former players among KFA executives and that they had "an open discussion on a wid e range of topics." After returning to South Korea on Feb. 8, Klinsmann said he met with Chung twice after the tournament ended, and the two reviewed and analyzed South Korea's performance -- instead of discussing their immediate future despite mounting public pressure on both to step down. Following the National Team Committee's meeting Thursday, Hwangbo told reporters that its members decided, based on "a number of reasons," that Klinsmann could no longer exercise his leadership as head coach of the national team. Those reasons included Klinsmann's lack of tactical preparation, inability to identify and address strife among players, and refusal to live in South Korea despite persistent criticism against him for spending too much time overseas. According to Hwangbo, Klinsmann blamed the team's semifinal exit on disharmony within the team -- highlighted by an apparent dustup between Son and Lee the night before the Jordan match -- instead of on the lack of tactical preparation. Chung has yet to comment o n Klinsmann's tenuous job security or the Son-Lee incident. Many protesters have staged demonstrations outside the KFA office this week demanding Chung's resignation. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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