“I would say it’s a process.”

Jürgen Klinsmann, head coach of the South Korean men’s national soccer team, emphasized that the team is in a “process” as it prepares for the 2026 North American World Cup qualifiers that begin in November and the Asian Cup in Qatar early next year. But the “time of patience” may not be long. If he fails to stem the tide of lethargy, critics will inevitably turn to hardball.

South Korea, ranked 28th in the FIFA rankings, will play Saudi Arabia (54th) in a friendly at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, at 1:30 a.m. on the 13th. It’s a match that could decide Klinsmann’s fate.

Currently, Klinsmann is literally a man in crisis. Since taking over the reins of the South Korean national team in February, he hasn’t won in five games. A 0-0 draw against Wales (ranked 35th) in an exhibition match on Aug. 8 brought his record to 3-0-2. Klinsmann is the first manager since 1992, when the national team was run on a full-time basis, to fail to win after five games in charge. It’s not just the results, but also the performance and tactical execution. In addition to the poor national team performance, Klinsmann has also been criticized for his many outside activities such as broadcast appearances while not living in Korea. As an extension, it is pointed out that the problems in selecting and using players are also the result of a lack of understanding of the players.

If the current public opinion is anything to go by, even a draw or loss against Saudi Arabia will only increase the calls for a new coach. Germany, who have been struggling this year, including a 1-4 loss to Japan in their recent A match, sacked coach Hanji Flick ahead of their match against France on the 13th.

Klinsmann needs a win against Saudi Arabia to silence the chatter. Despite their ranking advantage, they will not be an easy opponent. The Saudis lead the all-time series against South Korea with six wins, seven draws, and four losses. The Saudis, who beat eventual champions Argentina 2-1 in their group at the World Cup in Qatar, are poised for a comeback and recently hired Roberto Mancini, who led Italy to the 2020 European Championship, as their new head coach. Under Mancini, the team went 1-3 against Costa Rica (No. 46) on Sept. 9.

Klinsmann, who has emphasized “attacking football,” will be judged on his ability to score goals in Saudi Arabia. In the previous game against Wales, they managed just four shots on target (to Wales’ 10) in a frustrating flowing game that lacked effective tactics or player movement to exploit the opposition backline. Son Heung-min (Tottenham), who made the squad after scoring his first hat-trick of the season, and Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwylan), who returned from injury, formed the top two, with Lee Jae-sung (Mainz) and Hong Hyun-seok (Hent) on the left and right wings, but they didn’t make much of an impact. In the second half, Lee Soon-min (Gwangju), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich), Yang Hyun-joon (Celtic), and Lee Dong-kyung (Ulsan) were added to the attacking lineup without Son Heung-min, but they failed to create any decisive moments.스포츠토토

Klinsmann’s leadership and tactics have been described as “colorless” in the last five games. If Klinsmann can’t show a more colorful attacking tactic against Saudi Arabia, his future is uncertain.

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