KFA denies rumors that it might hire Jorge Pinto

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KFA denies rumors that it might hire Jorge Pinto

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said yesterday that it is in talks with five candidates to decide who will be the national football team coach, but it rejected rumors circulating online that Jorge Pinto of Colombia was among the contenders.

“We are communicating with five candidates who are from Europe or South America and some of them have received a specific offer including a salary,” KFA technical chief Lee Yong-soo told reporters yesterday at an event held at the National Football Training Center in Paju, northern Gyeonggi.

“But Pinto isn’t one of the five candidates.

“Previously, we wanted the new coach to watch September’s two friendly matches [against Venezuela and Uruguay], but I think it will be impossible as the negotiations with the candidates are [going slower] than we thought. We now expect to bring in a new coach by the end of September.”

Late Tuesday evening, Korean web portal sites such as Naver and Daum were flooded with stories reporting an interview that Pinto had given to a Peru media outlet in which the coach claimed that three nations are interested in signing him. He added that one of the three was Korea and the others were South American teams, including Peru.

The 62-year-old led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals in the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

“I think it’s a typical strategy often used by a free agent who is looking for a job in the market like him to get an edge at the negotiating table,” said a KFA spokesman.

Earlier this month, the KFA negotiated with Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, but the two failed to agree on several terms including a salary. After the breakdown, the KFA hired former Seongnam FC Coach Shin Tae-yong as an assistant coach to manage the national team in September’s international matches.

“It is a lot harder than we thought,” Lee said. “Many candidates are feeling pressure to go through to the [2018 Russia] World Cup Asian region qualifying rounds. The first thing we care about in those candidates’ profiles is that they have a lot of experience.”

Lee previously announced that the new coach should be someone who has led a nation to the Round of 16 in a World Cup.

“We are trying to find the best coach for the country,” said KFA President Chung Mong-gyu. “We expect to find someone who can devote himself to Korean football as soon as possible.”

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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