Media slams South Korea for Asian Cup 'disaster'

By Hoang Nguyen, Hoang AnFebruary 7, 2024 | 12:30 am PT
Media slams South Korea for Asian Cup 'disaster'
Son Heung-min (R) stands still as coach Jurgen Klinsmann comforts him after South Korea's 0-2 defeat against Jordan in Asian Cup semifinal on Feb. 6, 2024. Photo by AFP
South Korea were heavily criticized for not having a single shot on goal in the 0-2 defeat against underdogs Jordan at the Asian Cup semifinal Tuesday night.

South Korean newspaper Chosun headlined: "Klinsmann's disaster in Qatar, without a single shot on goal against Jordan."

"The consequence after playing extra time in two consecutive games, missing defender Kim Min-jae and not having a proper strategy, is losing to a team who are 87th on FIFA ranking," it wrote.

South Korea, world's number 23, had 70% possession with eight shots, but Jordan goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila did not have to make a save the entire game. On the contrary, Jordan only had 30% possession but made 17 shots, with seven on goal and scored twice to enter the Asian Cup final for the first time.

After the final whistle, captain Son Heung-min stood still on the field. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his teammates came to comfort him, but he did not move. It took 10 minutes for him to leave, because he had to do the post-match interview.

"I don't know what to say," Son said with teary eyes. "I'm sorry. This will be my last Asian Cup."

In the first two matches of the knockout, South Korea were behind, but then equalized in the last minute, sent the match into extra time and won on penalty shootouts. In the third match, they almost ran out of energy at the end, unable to create as much pressure as in the previous two matches. Chosun also said that Klinsmann is the team's problem.

"It’s obvious that Klinsmann has limitations and there will be no future for him in this team," it wrote.

Yonhap News said that Klinsmann "has no plans" in the past games of South Korea.

"Son and Lee Kang-in were lonely on the attacking line, while the defense was pathetic without Kim," the newspaper wrote. "This is questionable for Klinsmann, as he has a group of players considered to be the strongest in the team's history."

Near the end of the game with Jordan, many South Korean fans shouted: "Please play real football." Fans believe that Klinsmann has poorly prepared the team for this tournament as he only depended on stars like Son, Lee, Kim or Hwang Hee-chan.

Although the media asked him to resign, Klinsmann said he would not do so.

"People talk a lot about this, but I never thought about resigning," Klinsmann said in the post-match press conference. "After returning to South Korea, I will spend time discussing what I did well and what needs improvement at the tournament."

Klinsmann led Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup and helped the U.S. win the Gold Cup in 2013. He became South Korea’s head coach in February 2023 but was criticized for not spending enough time in the country. After 18 matches with Korea, Klinsmann's win rate was only 44.4%, much lower than his predecessor Paulo Bento (61.4%).

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