The national soccer team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, will play at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which will open in Doha, Qatar on January 12, and will seek to win the title for the first time in 64 years. South Korea, which belongs to Group E, will play in the group qualifiers against Bahrain (15th), Jordan (20th) and Malaysia (25th).
Korea won the title at the first event in 1956 and the second event in 1960. However, Korea has been the runner-up for four times in the 64 years since then, and thus has no chance of winning the title. Some call it the “Curse of the Asian Cup” as there are many unfortunate scenes. The year 2024, when world class players including Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae and Lee Kang-in are enjoying their prime time, is the best time for Korea to regain the throne in Asia.
South Korea won 1-0 against Iraq on the 6th. Hwang In-beom’s first goal was scored, but his performance in the first half was frustrating. The performance in the second half improved with Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae, Lee Kang-in, Cho Kyu-sung and Hwang Hee-chan. It is clear that Korea is a strong team with all-time members, but it is too dependent on certain players. The coach’s ability to control this is weak.
The same applies to foreign media as well. ESPN pointed out Korea’s Asian Cup championship challenge as a variable on Tuesday. Coincidentally, Coach Klinsmann is serving as a member of the ESPN soccer panel.
“Korea is the strongest team in Asia, but 1960 was the last Asian Cup winner. It doesn’t suit their global status either. German coach Klinsmann is preparing for the Taegeuk Warriors to win the championship trophy. However, Korea is fighting not only the weight of history but also skepticism at home,” ESPN said.
Again, Korea’s biggest strength is its “Son Heung-min possessing power.” ESPN said, “Only Klinsman has reasons to be optimistic. Kim Min-jae, who led Napoli to the championship, is a Ballon d’Or-nominated defender. Hwang Hee-chan scored 10 goals and made 3 assists in the Premier League. Lee Kang-in has established himself as a starting member of PSG. Players from the K-League of the highest league in Asia support him. Above all, he has the best player in Asia. He is definitely the best player in the Asian Cup. As a center forward, he has 12 goals and 5 assists,” paying attention to Son.
Korea’s weakness is that of Coach Klinsmann. “I am confident that I will prove that I will win the Asian Cup, but I have never won a major title as a leader.” ESPN quoted Klinsmann as saying, “The problem for Korea is that we depend on Son Heung-min. Klinsmann was cut short before completing a single season in Munich. Philippe Lam pointed out that he is tactically incompetent. When playing for the U.S. national team, he was fired after losing 0-4 to Costa Rica. The U.S. failed to advance to the World Cup finals for the first time in 32 years. It was also a miserable 76 days in Hertha Berlin. German media reported that even when Klinsmann was playing for Germany, Joachim Löw was there.”
He also introduced controversies over his work from home. ESPN reported that Clinton spent much of the time at home in California since her appointment, contrary to her promise to move to Korea. Some Korean media compared her time in Korea to that of the U.S. The fact that she asked Wales captain Aaron Ramsey for her uniform is also labeled as a “stupid act.” She claimed that she asked for her son’s uniform.
In the end, it all depends on the trophy. If Klinsmann is to put to rest all the controversies, he must win the Asian Cup. Otherwise, he will have to take responsibility for everything and resign.
“The tournament will begin soon. If Korea cruises, it will meet Iran in the quarterfinals. The simplest way to avoid controversy is to end the drought of championships. However, it is not as easy as it sounds in the history of Korean soccer,” ESPN quoted Klinsmann as saying.