Disappointed with the result, Korean soccer fans and media, as well as international media, criticized coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s “no tactics, no strategy.
The South Korean national soccer team, led by Klinsmann, lost 0-2 to Jordan, ranked 87th in the FIFA rankings, in the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on July 7 (KST).
The deficit would have been even greater had it not been for goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo’s saves.
“We could have scored more goals and won the game,” said head coach Jordan Amotta after the match. “Throughout the Asian Cup, Korea has shown weaknesses in defense, and that’s what we focused on,” he said.
“Korea is not an easy opponent because they have very good players. But they brought out the fight in the players, and I gave them the right pressing tactics, and it worked,” he said.
While Amotta used his tactics to overcome the difference in strength to win the game, Klinsmann’s inexplicable response left soccer fans disappointed and angry.
Despite having the strongest offensive line in the world, including Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, and Lee Kang-in, the team recorded zero effective shots. Neither the offense nor the defense was good enough. Even when they were 0-2 down midway through the second half, it was hard to see a tactical change to focus on a comeback goal. Nor did they prepare for the chase with a solid defense. The shaky defense continued to falter.
After watching Klinsmann’s failure to properly utilize the abundance of quality resources at his disposal, domestic football observers said, “Klinsmann is wasting the golden generation. It’s a shame because we should be rejoicing with our best players,” said a local soccer official.
While the pressure to fire Klinsmann was mounting among soccer pundits and fans alike, international media echoed the domestic sentiment, criticizing Klinsmann’s “ineffective tactics.
Reuters and The Guardian were united in their criticism of Klinsmann, saying he “failed to respond to Jordan’s pressing and fluid attack.” US D Athletic said, “Relying solely on the genius of his star players. There was a lack of tactical planning throughout the tournament, and the performance was abysmal. This is the worst moment Korean fans have seen in a long time.”
ESPN, which predicted last month that “given the path Klinsmann has taken, it will be difficult for South Korea to achieve the results they want at the Asian Cup,” reported that “Klinsmann has no intention of resigning, despite calls for him to do so.” “As the players wiped away tears after the defeat, Klinsmann smiled broadly as he shook hands furiously with Jordan. South Korean fans are even more furious.”