Klinsmann looks forward to learning opportunity in first S. Korea training camp
By Yoo Jee-ho
PAJU, South Korea, March 20 (Yonhap) -- Jurgen Klinsmann, freshly appointed as head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, said Monday he is embracing the crash course on his new players.
Klinsmann is gearing up for his South Korea coaching debut Friday against Colombia in Ulsan, some 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul. After Colombia, South Korea will host Uruguay on March 28 in Seoul. The German tactician opened his first training camp Monday at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, around 30 km north of Seoul.
"These two matches against Colombia and Uruguay are very obviously exciting for us new coaches to get to know the team, to get to know the players, and to understand more and more about football in Korea about the fans, about the media, about everyone," Klinsmann told reporters before his first training session. "But most importantly for us coaches and me as a head coach, it is (an opportunity) to get to know the players. So I will hopefully get a lot of time, a lot of time to talking to the players. It's a big learning curve for me too but hopefully I'm a great learner."
Klinsmann was announced as successor to Paulo Bento, South Korea's bench boss for the past four years, at the end of February, and then arrived in South Korea on March 8.
For Monday's session, a few Europe-based players, including longtime captain Son Heung-min, were missing, as they were scheduled to join the national team later that day or Tuesday due to their club commitments. It won't be until Wednesday that Klinsmann will have every one of his 25-man squad on hand.
The new coach said the purpose of his first camp isn't confined to helping with players' technical skills or tactical knowledge.
"I hope to see certain elements in the exercises that we do, but most importantly, I'll get to know them as persons to understand their mindset, to understand how they look at the game, and step by step to continue the work," Klinsmann said. "And for me now, it's very exciting to work with every individual player now going forward because, based on my experience that I had, playing in four different countries, I think one of my strengths is to know what goes on in players' minds."
Klinsmann has attended two K League 1 matches since arriving here and said he has watched other matches on television.
Klinsmann, who said he was "very impressed" by the domestic league here, elected to keep the country's FIFA World Cup squad from last fall mostly intact.
Only three players from that team, which reached the last 16 in Qatar, are missing this time: Gimcheon Sangmu FC defender Yoon Jong-gyu, Daegu FC defender Hong Chul, and Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Hwang Hee-chan, who was originally selected but was cut on Sunday because of an unspecified injury.
It will bear watching what Klinsmann does with essentially the same group of players that Bento coached just a few months ago.
"I hope both that you see a little bit of my approach and obviously you build on how they played already in Qatar," Klinsmann said. "You cannot change too much in the first get-together with a team. Step by step, I would like to put a little bit more of my influence on the team and hopefully it's in a very, very positive way."
Klinsmann reiterated his long-term goal of winning the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup next year in Qatar and ending South Korea's continental drought that dates back to 1960.
And to accomplish that goal and more, Klinsmann said he first wants his players to enjoy themselves.
"In professional sports, you want to first communicate that you have goals, and the goal is to win something," he said. "In those same moments, you want them to enjoy what they're doing. You want them to have fun, and you want them to have a smile on their face when they play football. And I think when you are positive, when you have confidence, then you can achieve also those goals."
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