“I’ve never seen him in person.”
It was last June. At a press conference to announce the roster, German coach Jürgen Klinsmann said this while explaining the reasoning behind the selection of Ahn Hyun-beom (Jeonbuk, then Jeju). He admitted that he hadn’t seen him play in person, but he chose him for the national team. Even if the player deserved to be on the squad, the process of selecting a player who was not personally seen by the coach raises questions. Coincidentally, Klinsmann also made a controversial decision to play Ahn Hyun-beom, an attacking wing-back for his club, in a defensive role for the national team. This led to criticism that Klinsmann “doesn’t even know his players”.
Similar controversy will inevitably surround the September roster. The selection of Kang Sang-woo (Beijing Guoan), who plays in the Chinese Super League, is not without controversy. According to the Korea Football Association (KFA), Klinsmann and his coaches have never seen him play in China. They only saw him through Wise Scout, a platform that allows users to view player videos and records, before selecting him for the national team. The press release on the national team roster distributed by the KFA also only explained that “Kang Sang-woo returned after a year and eight months. There was no accompanying commentary from coach Klinsmann.
Of course, Kang Sang-woo has a good record this season. In 20 Chinese League games (15 starts), he has scored seven goals. He leads the team in goals and attacking points. He’s been performing well in the K League for a long time, and there’s no doubt about his ability. However, earning a spot on the national team is a different matter. It’s essential to see a player in action, not just on video and records. If necessary, a face-to-face interview with Klinsmann and his coaching staff would be required, as it has been for other Europeans. Given the weight of the flag, this is a natural step.
Kang was not a player who had been called up to the national team consistently enough to be recalled at any time. For Kang, it’s been a year and eight months since his last call-up to the national team. He had been called up for a while under former Portugal coach Paulo Bento, but only got the chance to come off the bench in two of his 13 A matches. Those two matches still stand as the most in his career (2). That means he was never a first-team option under Bento. He hadn’t been involved with Taekwondo since his call-up in January last year, and then received a surprise call-up from Klinsmann, who had been in charge for five months.
It’s even more puzzling that Kang is classified as a “defender” and named to the squad. Of course, he was classified as a flanker when he was playing domestically and under Bento. This season, however, he’s been playing in other non-defensive roles for his club, such as flanker and attacking midfielder. The same goes for his seven goals. Although he is known for his versatility and has been known to move to fullback in the middle of games, it would be unfair to categorize him as a “defender” this season. Even Beijing Guoan’s official website categorizes him as a midfielder, not a defender.
Just looking at the fullbacks in the squad, it’s clear that Klinsmann chose Kang as a ‘flanking defense’ option. Aside from Kang, the only other fullbacks on the roster are Seol Young-woo (Ulsan), Lee Ki-je (Suwon), and Ahn Hyun-beom. Considering that it is common to select at least two fullbacks on the left and right sides, Kang Sang-woo can be seen as a left fullback alongside Lee Ki-jae. The fact that he was called up by Klinsmann, who took over in March, after only a year and eight months in charge, means that his recent record was used as a criterion for selection, not his role in the team.
Of course, the position you play for your club is not the same as the one you use for the national team. It’s up to the national team manager to find a new use for a player based on their skills with their club. However, this requires an accurate understanding and analysis of the player. It’s unlikely that Klinsmann has an in-depth knowledge of Kang Sang-woo, as he hasn’t even met him. The fact that he categorized a player who is already playing an offensive role for his club as a defender is enough to raise the question of whether he was selected for the national team without a proper understanding of the player. The suspicion is not unreasonable, as Klinsmann has already done this before in June, when he named a player to the national team that he hadn’t seen in action and then used him in the exact opposite way.토스카지노
Furthermore, Klinsmann has been under fire for spending more time abroad than at home since his appointment. In the process, he has been accused of neglecting the Korean national team. The credibility of Klinsmann’s national team selection process is bound to drop. The fact that Klinsmann has eliminated the press conference after the roster announcement only adds to the controversy. The team selection process is not easy to understand, and this is compounded by the lack of communication. Criticism of Klinsmann and the KFA will only intensify.