Smiling Klinsmann faces the wrath of South Korean expectation

February 7 – Jurgen Klinsmann has said he has no plan to resign from the Korean coaching job despite their loss to tournament minnows Jordan in the semi-final of the Asian Cup last night.

South Korea were expected to breeze past Jordan into the final with a squad whose stars are also playing key roles in top European leagues, but in Qatar this past month have failed to meet expectations.

They salvaged progression from their group and through the first two rounds of knockout play with spectacular added time finishes. But against Jordan they were out-thought and, despite having 70% of possession, ultimately outplayed, losing 2-0.

“I’m not planning to do anything,” said Klinsmann, who has previously coached Germany and the USA at national team level.

“I’m planning to analyse this tournament, to go with the team back to Korea and then talk to the federation about what was good and what was not so good in that tournament.”

Klinsmann has been under persistent criticism in Korea, with one of the gripes being that he has not spent much time there since he took the job. But neither have his key players.

He said his sights though are still set on World Cup 2026 qualifying and what he maintains is a very difficult qualifying campaign. Certainly if it wasn’t seen as being so difficult before the current Asian Cup (2026 has more available slots for AFC teams and South Korea have qualified for the last 10 editions), with the latest loss to Jordan it does take a different complexion.

“I think there was a lot of good stuff that we saw. There’s a team that is growing, a team that still has to develop towards the World Cup in the U.S., Mexico and Canada over the next few years, with a very difficult qualifying campaign. So there’s a lot of work ahead of us,” said Klinsmann.

After the match against Jordan, Klinsmann was pictured on the Korean bench with a smile on his face, and later seeking out Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta, who was celebrating with his players, to congratulate him.

“For me it’s normal to congratulate the other coach when his team was better in a game. I think this is a sign of respect,” Klinsmann said when questioned about his post-game reaction.

“They deserved this win today. They were the better team, but this is for me totally normal. If you say I shouldn’t smile, give somebody a smile that deserves a compliment in that moment, maybe we have different approaches.”

But Klinsmann did say that doesn’t mean he was happy with the game.

“I am very disappointed. I’m angry because we should have done better tonight,” Klinsmann said.

“We were not existent the first 20 or 30 minutes. That’s why I’m saying we give them respect because they were better they wanted it more.”

“But when the game is over and I congratulate another coach and you smile just because of him personally and you congratulate him. I think it is not a big deal. I am certainly not walking around tonight and smiling all over the place. There were reasons why we lost this game. We have to accept those reasons. If the other team showed more on the field, which they did, then you have to give them respect.”

Certainly the South Koreans wanted and expected more. It remains to be seen whether Klinsmann will be allowed to remain in post to deliver.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1709381192labto1709381192ofdlr1709381192owedi1709381192sni@n1709381192osloh1709381192cin.l1709381192uap1709381192

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