Korea’s coaching carousel has Dutch flavor
Twenty teams returned to the World Cup this year from 2002, but only four ― Costa Rica, England, Sweden and the United States ― came to Germany with the same head coach. Nearly half of the 32 teams have coaches from countries other than their own.
When the World Cup arrives in South Africa four years from now, the percentage of retained head coaches on returning teams could be even lower, as three coaches from this year’s teams have already quit and several others are expected to leave soon.
Korea has not had a native national team coach since 1998, when Cha Bum-kun was dismissed after the second game of the team’s disappointing World Cup in France.
Three Dutchmen ― Guus Hiddink, Jo Bonfrere and Dick Advocaat ― and a Portuguese, Humberto Coelho, have since taken turns manning Korea’s ship. This week, Pim Verbeek, who served as an assistant under Hiddink and Advocaat, was named the fourth Dutch national to the post.
So what is it about the job security of coaches?
As is often the case in other sports, players tend to get the credit for good performances, while coaches usually take most of the blame for the opposite. For officials in charge of employing coaches in soccer federations and associations, dismissing coaches is often the most visible and radical way to show disenchanted fans they are trying to improve.
Some coaches also stay with one country only for one World Cup, and then move onto another nation seeking different challenges.
Often, they are the ones who have built a strong reputation on one national team and let their past success carry them into another destination. Portugal’s head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, and has now led his current team to its first quarterfinal in 40 years.
Hiddink is also a prime example. He took over the reins of the Korean team at the beginning of 2001, overhauled the group of underachievers who had not won a World Cup match and led them to the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup, four years after leading the Netherlands to the final four. The Dutchman received honorary Korean citizenship for his efforts.
He then moved on to the next challenge, and coached Australia to its first World Cup since 1974. The Aussies made it to the round of 16, the first time ever for the nation, and came within seconds of forcing the favorite Italy into overtime.
Even though the “Socceroos” didn’t make it past the second round, Hiddink’s future as a soccer coach is secure. He has accepted an offer to coach the Russian national team, which failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
“He is never going to be out of work as long as he wants to coach,” Bryan Chenault, an official with FIFA, recently told The New York Times.
A number of coaches, unfortunately, will be out of work based on their teams’ poor showings at the World Cup. Serbia and Montenegro’s head coach Ilija Petkovic announced after the team’s second match, a 6-0 loss to Argentina, that he would resign after the World Cup. The Serbs wound up losing all three first-round games.
Bruce Arena, the longest serving coach of this year’s World Cup, is in his eighth and probably last year as the U.S. coach. The team drew once and lost twice, scoring only two goals in the process. One of the markers was an own goal by Italy’s Cristian Zaccardo. Arena’s contract expires at the end of this year.
Karel Bruckner failed to put the Czech Republic, the world’s No.2-ranked team, into the next round. The team beat the United States 3-0 in the first match, but was shut out in the next two by Ghana and Italy.
by Yoo Jee-ho