More than half of S. Koreans don’t consider nationality important for next nat’l football coach

SEOUL– More than half of South Koreans don’t care about the nationality of the next head coach of the men’s national football team, a survey showed Wednesday.

Hankook Research polled 1,000 South Koreans over the age of 18 from Dec. 23 to 26 on South Korean football. Among the respondents, 56 percent said the passport of the new bench boss is not important compared with 19 percent who said they preferred foreigners and 10 percent who wanted to see a South Korean head coach. The remaining 15 percent said they didn’t know one way or another.

The men’s head coach position remains vacant following the departure of Paulo Bento, who chose not to re-sign with South Korea after a four-year run that ended at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last month. Bento, who coached South Korea to the round of 16, was the longest-serving coach in South Korean men’s football history.

By age group, 30 percent of those between 18 and 29 said they wanted to see another foreign head coach, compared with just 3 percent among those in their 30s.

Also, 51 percent of all respondents said the new coach should be signed through the next World Cup in 2026, whereas 29 percent said the Korea Football Association (KFA) should only sign the incoming coach through the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup and decide on an extension based on South Korea’s performance there.

The KFA had offered Bento an extension through the Asian Cup, but the Portuguese coach, seeking a new four-year deal through the 2026 World Cup, turned it down.

In Hankook Research’s survey, 33 percent said losing Bento was a bad move on the KFA’s part, compared with 20 percent who said the KFA did well to let him walk.

According to the poll, 68 percent said they took a major interest in the World Cup, and 75 percent said they watched at least one South Korean match live on television despite the late hours. A quarter of the respondents said they followed the World Cup too closely that it interfered with their daily lives.

Captain Son Heung-min, who played through a serious facial injury, was chosen by 45 percent of the respondents as the most impressive South Korean player at the World Cup, followed by forward Cho Gue-sung, who led the team with two goals in Qatar.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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