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Klinsmann sold on future of S. Korean football

By Yonhap

Published : June 20, 2023 - 09:41

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South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann speaks at a press conference at Daejeon World Cup on Monday. (Yonhap) South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann speaks at a press conference at Daejeon World Cup on Monday. (Yonhap)

While coaching the senior men's national football team for South Korea, Jurgen Klinsmann hasn't lost the sight of the pipeline that will be feeding him youthful talent in the near future.

The German tactician doesn't just want to wait around for young athletes to develop, though. He wants to be involved in their progress.

At a press conference Monday, the eve of South Korea's friendly against El Salvador in the central city of Daejeon, Klinsmann spoke of how "excited" he is about the current generation of players coming up for his adopted country.

"I have a lot of calls from European coaches about Korea players that play here in the K League and about players playing in under-20," Klinsmann said. "I think your fans recognize that. You were very happy with the performance in the (U-20) World Cup, (where South Korea finished fourth this month). There's so much to be proud of being a Korean football fan, and to look forward to."

Klinsmann said he'd like to see more assertiveness from South Korean players, the ones on his team now and the ones trying to make the team down the road.

"I try to tell the players to ask for more, to get hungrier, to be confident," he said. "If you have a chance to play in Europe, go there and be confident. If you have a chance to play here in the K League, be confident and be a leader.

"There's a lot happening here. We coaches coming from abroad, we feel that," Klinsmann continued. "We want to be part of this help, and push them and give them confidence."

The South Korean U-20 team turned heads by reaching the semifinals despite not carrying highly touted prospects. The team's captain, Lee Seung-won, won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player of the tournament despite having never played in the K League 1, the top domestic circuit. But after their Cinderella run, Klinsmann predicted a brighter future for those young players.

"You will see one, two, three, maybe four under-20 players go to Europe, or maybe play next season in the K League from the beginning and on," Klinsmann said. "So there's a lot happening. I think (it is) very positive." (Yonhap)