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Bonfrere’s Future to be Decided at 23rd Korean National Soccer Association Meeting

Bonfrere’s Future to be Decided at 23rd Korean National Soccer Association Meeting

Posted August. 19, 2005 03:04,   


On the afternoon of August 18, there was an unusual sign saying “off limits” at the door of the Korean National Soccer Association technical committee office at the Soccer Center located in Sinmunno, Jongno-gu.

There, technical committee members was having an off-the-record discussion on the future of Johannes Bonfrere, the national soccer team coach, who is getting keen attention both from the Korean public and from dozens of reporters competing with each other to cover him.

After the meeting, Kang Shin-woo, vice-chairman of the committee, deferred final decision on the possible resignation of Bonfrere, saying an official decision was not made yet.

Under the circumstances, what is the best way for Korean national soccer team to regain its status as a World Cup semi-finalist in 2002?

Some insiders of the committee proposed to keep Bonfrere, find out the team’s problems thoroughly, and make up for the weak points in the current team. Many Koreans are paying keen attention on the way to revive the national soccer team.

Too Late to Change-

Jang Sun-pil, the chairman of match committee said that nine months to go from the World Cup, it is too late to replace Bonfrere with another foreign coach. He added that a more urgent issue was to make up for the head coach and seek understanding from pro soccer teams, which soccer players belong to, so that the national team could have more team training. According to Mr. Jang, it takes at least two months to replace a foreign coach with another one, and an additional few months for the new one to get to know all players and test them.

Domestic Coach-

Some insist that a new Korean coach could save time in adapting himself to the team, and figure out each player. However, a pro soccer team coach doubted that anyone would be “crazy enough” to take the seat of the national soccer team coach under the circumstances. Only a charismatic one could go through sensitive public opinion with his own firm resolve, but there are few that could do it the nation.

Is There a Hope for the Current National Team?-

Bonfrere complained that he cannot do anything but repeat trials and make mistakes when the national team has never had long-term training sessions. However, the surface problems are his lack of creativity and strategies. Experts point out that the future of the coach should be decided after cautious consultation on whether his weak points could be complemented by some aides, such as the support of the technical committee.

Constructive Criticism Rather Than Blame-

Ha Jae-hun, a technical commissioner, said that in the case of the match against Saudi Arabia, the jeering of the coach, who plays the role of father for the soccer players, on a coach’s home ground is very rare to see, even in pro team matches. He added that Bonfrere was deeply hurt by that and, in turn, looked irrational at the match. He expressed his opinion that if soccer fans gave constructive criticism rather than blame, there was still hope in the national team.

The Korean National Soccer Association is expected to discuss and complete comprehensive plans, including the future of Bonfrere, at its technical committee meeting on August 23.

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com