New official in charge of nat’l football coach selection keeping all options open

SEOUL– The new official tasked with appointing the new head coach for the men’s national football team said Wednesday he is keeping all options open, with a focus on finding someone who falls in line with South Korea’s football philosophy.

Michael Muller, new head of the National Team Committee for the Korea Football Association (KFA), said that as a German, he has to “think in international ways.”

“We’re thinking in all directions. The doors in each direction are open,” the 58-year-old said at his introductory press conference at the KFA House in Seoul. “I can’t answer where the new coach is coming from. I want to work sustainable and holistic. I don’t want to be a part of any speculation at this moment.”

Last Wednesday, the KFA made Muller, who had been leading the Technical Development Committee, the first foreign head of the National Team Committee. He is in charge of national teams’ operations and management, and his main job at the moment is to find the successor to Paulo Bento, whose four-year term ended following South Korea’s elimination in the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last month.

Muller succeeds Lee Yong-soo, a longtime executive who had put together a preliminary list of candidates before stepping down. But the new committee chief said he will look to work from a blank slate.

“I appreciated to get information in advance that the former committee already discussed. But I need to think about this first,” Muller said. “I need to make some decisions, and I will use my network as well.”

Bento had been offered an extension, but the KFA was only willing to keep him through the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, whereas Bento had sought another four-year deal that would take him through the 2026 World Cup. Asked if the KFA will give the new coach a lengthy contract, Muller said: “The term is not decided yet. It will be the result of the negotiations. But my personal opinion is that a long-term, successful relationship is much better.”

Muller listed five major areas of consideration for the new head coach: expertise, experience, motivation, ability to work as a team, and willingness to live in South Korea and identify with the national team philosophy.

“The new coach should be in line with the KFA philosophy, of course,” he said. “It’s always crucial as a football association that we’re aware of what we want. The next step is we’re aware of what we need.”

The KFA had earlier said the objective is to name the new coach by February, with South Korea set to play international friendlies during the FIFA match window in March.

Muller said working from scratch in his search process doesn’t necessarily mean the appointment will be delayed.

“We’ll try everything to bring this process in the right direction,” he said. “We need to be really sure with our decision. I am confident we’re going to make it suitable.”

And once the coach is named, Muller said he and his committee will continue to have the new staff’s back.

“I am a communicator and a coordinator. I want to give as much support as possible,” he said. “With my expertise and my capability of giving feedback, I am always around to support the coaching staff.”

Prior to arriving in South Korea as an instructor for KFA’s coaching programs in April 2018, Muller had coached youth football in his native Germany. He held the reins of the German under-15 and under-18 national teams, and also worked as a scout for their under-21 side that won the UEFA European U-21 Championship in 2017.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

scroll to top