Ahead of the A match in June, the off-field leadership of coach Jurgen Klinsmann (59), the “Korean soccer command tower,” was put to the test.
The Korean national soccer team, led by coach Klinsman, will play two A-matches against Peru on the 16th and El Salvador on the 20th. Match venue and kickoff time are undecided.
Since both matches are held during the A-match period designated by the International Football Federation (FIFA), all foreign players are subject to convocation.
As of the 21st, Peru is ranked 21st in the FIFA rankings, six places higher than Korea, which is ranked 27th. Peru, which has had a total of five World Cup finals, failed to make it to the finals at the 2022 Qatar World Cup because it failed to pass the intercontinental playoffs. They lost to Australia on penalties. The most recent tournament that successfully qualified for the finals was the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Peru reached the semifinals in the 2021 Copa America, a South American competition, along with Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. They lost to Brazil 0-1, ending their run to the final.
Korea has never defeated Peru in national team matches at any level. The previous record between national teams is 2 matches, 1 draw and 1 loss. In 1971, they lost 0-4 in an away friendly match, and in 2013, the national team led by then coach Hong Myung-bo drew 0-0. As for the national team by age, the 2007 under-17 team and the 2014 under-15 team faced each other, losing both times.
El Salvador of North and Central America ranked 75th in the FIFA rankings and South Korea will face each other for the first time.
El Salvador has qualified for the World Cup twice, but the 1982 World Cup in Spain was the last time they qualified. Recently, players of El Salvador descent, who are active in the US and Europe, are joining the national team to increase their power. He has reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 North and Central America Gold Cup.
Peru will enter the South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America from September. El Salvador is ahead of the 2023 North & Central America Gold Cup, which opens on June 24th. Both teams will visit Korea for final mock exams ahead of important competitions. It is expected that he will enter the game as the most elite member.
Klinsmanho, who made his debut in the Colombia-Uruguay A match at the end of March, will return to the fans in about three months.
Coach Klinsman was put on the ‘leadership test table off the field’ as soon as he took office due to rumors of discord within the national team, including the ‘retirement happening’ of Kim Min-jae (Napoli).
On the 28th of last month, after an evaluation match with Uruguay (Korea lost 1-2), Min-jae Kim surprised everyone by hinting at his retirement by saying, “I want to focus only on my team” after blurting the end by saying, “Not for the time being…” In addition, traces of unfollowing social media accounts with ‘national team captain’ Son Heung-min (Tottenham) were also found, leading to rumors of discord.
Standing at the center of the controversy, Kim Min-jae directly revealed that his retirement was a distorted story, and admitted to severing his social media account relationship with Son Heung-min, bowing his head, saying, “It was a misunderstanding and I acted outside of common sense.” Regarding rumors of discord, he clearly drew the line, saying, “It is not true at all.”
Kim Min-jae personally came forward to calm the factional suspicion, but the aftertaste is unpleasant. This is one of the reasons coach Klinsman flew to Naples and met Kim Min-jae after the A-match in March.
In announcing coach Klinsman’s visit to Naples, an official from the Korea Football Association said, “After talking (with Kim Min-jae), the coach wants to figure out what the problem is.”
Coach Klinsmann met Kim Min-jae, Oh Hyeon-gyu먹튀검증 (Celtic), and Son Heung-min, and will also check Lee Jae-seong (Mainz 05) and Jung Woo-young (Frankfurt). The European tour is going smoothly.
Although Kim Min-jae directly explained the rumors of discord, considering a series of situations and slips of the tongue, the attention of fans during the A match in June is bound to be focused on the cohesion of the team on and off the field. It is a story that the leadership of coach Klinsman, who traveled around Europe and had close conversations with the players who will be responsible for the future of the national team, was put to the test.