Foreign coaches applying to lead Taegeuk WarriorsAfter Korea was eliminated in the first round of the 2014 Brazil World Cup with a terrible performance and Coach Hong Myung-bo and Korea Football Association (KFA) Vice President Huh Jung-moo resigned, two questions remain: Who will lead the Taegeuk Warriors and how will the KFA reform itself to improve Korean football?
For the coaching position, it looks like the KFA is in the process of collecting resumes sent from football coaches worldwide who are looking for a job. According to Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, Croatian football legend Robert Prosinecki is willing to lead the Korean national team for the next four years.
“I’ve heard a lot about Korea and I thought that I [would] want to lead this team if I get a chance to,” he said in a phone interview with Ilgan Sports on Saturday. “I saw Korea playing in Brazil. They were a good team but couldn’t win a match. But I saw some potential from many young prospects. I really want to coach this team.”
Sources said that Davor Suker, the chief of the Croatian football body, also recommended Prosinecki to KFA President Chung Mong-gyu.
Prosinecki, 45, was a star player who led Yugoslavia to the quarterfinals in the 1990 Italy World Cup. He scored four goals in 15 international matches for Yugoslavia. As an attacking midfielder, he also played for Spain’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. After the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was dissolved, he chose to play for Croatia and led the country to the semifinals in the 1998 France World Cup. He scored 10 goals in 49 A matches for Croatia.
He scored 83 goals in 400 club matches.
Prosinecki began his coaching career as an assistant coach to Slaven Bilic in 2006. Under their leadership, Croatia advanced to the quarterfinals in the UEFA Euro 2008.
He became the head coach for the Red Star Belgrade of Serbia in December 2010 and led the team to a second-place finish in the 2010-11 season, and then into the Europa League by finishing the 2011-12 season in second place. But since the club expected him to acquire the league title, he had to leave.
He is currently unemployed but is being wooed by several clubs in Russia and the Middle East.
“He received many offers, from several clubs,” an agent for Prosinecki said. “One Russian club offered about 1.5 billion won [$1.45 million] salary while another club in the Mideast offered 2 billion won per year. After he found out that the Korean national football team coach post was empty, he told me that he really wanted that job and said he was willing to cut his salary if the price tag attached to him is too expensive.”
Since Korea struggled so badly in the Cup, some coaches might think the job will be easy. Last week, a Danish media outlet reported that Michael Schjonberg, an assistant coach of Valerenga in Norway, was considering coaching Japan or Korea. The KFA said it received his resume but is not considering him for the post.
Schjonberg has never led a national team and has only been head coach for two seasons in his 11-year coaching career in Germany, Denmark and Norway. The KFA is seeking someone more experienced with an impressive resume that can satisfy angry Korean fans.
“It looks like he hired many agents to send his resume to the KFA,” a KFA spokesman said. “Those agents recommended only one person, and it was Schjonberg. No matter who they recommend, we first will reform our technical committee and will then look at those candidates.”
The KFA is busy reforming its technical committee, which has been severely criticized by fans as being an absurd misnomer. The committee, led by former national team star Hwangbo Kwan, was supposed to provide tactical support to the national team, but did practically nothing in the past four years and fans want Hwangbo fired.
The KFA is considering Kim Hak-bum, a former Gangwon FC coach, and KBS football analyst Lee Yong-soo as possible heads of the committee.
Kim won the K-League title when he led Seongnam FC in the 2006 season, and Lee supported Guus Hiddink when he coached Korea and was chief of the technical committee during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup when Korea made it to the semifinals.
Sources said the KFA will decide the chief of the committee as early as this week, as Korea is scheduled to have two A matches in September.
BY KWON SANG-SOO, KIM MIN-GYU [firstname.lastname@example.org ]