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Hwangbo Kwan (centre) of the Korea Football Association's national team committee holds a press briefing at the Korea Football Association in Seoul on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Seoul: A Korea Football Association (KFA) advisory committee recommended sacking head coach Juergen Klinsmann on Thursday after their semi-final exit at the Asian Cup and amid criticism of his leadership, KFA Technical Director Hwangbo Kwan said.

The National Team Committee does not make administrative decisions, leaving it up to the KFA’s Executive Board whether to act on its recommendation to fire Klinsmann, whose contract runs through the 2026 World Cup.

South Korea, 23rd in the Fifa rankings, were beaten by 87th-ranked Jordan 2-0 in the Asian Cup semi-finals earlier this month, prompting fans and some politicians to call for the 59-year-old’s dismissal.

The German’s popularity in Korea plummeted during the tournament, with many criticising his demeanour, smiling even when things were not going his team’s way on the field.

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South Korea's German coach Jurgen Klinsmann's contract runs through the 2026 World Cup. Image Credit: AFP

Facing criticism

Off the field, Klinsmann also repeatedly faced criticism for often working in Los Angeles, where he currently lives, despite saying he would spend much of his time in South Korea.

He took part in Thursday’s meeting via video call, the KFA said.

“For various reasons, there was a conclusion that coach Klinsmann can no longer exercise leadership as the national team’s coach and needs to be replaced,” Hwangbo told reporters after the meeting.

Some saw Klinsmann’s attitude towards his job including a lack of time spent in South Korea as “disrespectful” towards the public, Hwangbo added.

Ex-South Korean international Hong Myung-bo is reportedly among the names being considered to temporarily lead the team for the upcoming 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Thailand if Klinsmann is dismissed, according to Yonhap News TV.

Klinsmann, who won the World Cup in 1990 as a player, has previously managed the German and US national teams, as well as Bundesliga side Bayern Munich.

He took charge of South Korea last year after Paulo Bento stepped down following their defeat to Brazil in the last 16 of the World Cup in 2022.

Rocky start

The German’s tenure got off to a rocky start, with South Korea failing to win any of his first five games in charge, losing to Uruguay and Peru and drawing with Colombia, El Salvador and Wales.

South Korea’s form improved in the build-up to the Asian Cup with a run of six straight wins, and despite being far from their best in Qatar, the Asian heavyweights improved on their quarter-final exit at the 2019 edition by reaching the last four.

In their semi-final defeat to Jordan, they were unable to register a single shot on target, falling short in their bid to end a 64-year wait for a third title.