Jurgen Klinsmann has officially been fired as head coach of the South Korea national team. The former USMNT manager was previously hired in February of 2023 and had a contract in place with the Asian nation until after the 2026 World Cup. Nevertheless, the German was sacked on Friday following a disappointing Asian Cup showing.

South Korea was knocked out of the recent tournament at the hands of Jordan in the semifinals earlier this month. Despite the team enduring a 64-year drought at the competition, fans inside the country expected to lift the trophy.

A national team committee echoed these sentiments during a recent meeting. The group met on Thursday to discuss Klinsmann’s position at the helm. Following discussions, the group recommended the German’s sacking for the poor display.

Two high-ranking Korean officials cite problems with coach’s leadership

Following the dismissal, Korea Football Association (KFA) president Chung Mong-gyu stated that Klinsmann did not meet the group’s expectations. “Coach Klinsmann failed to demonstrate leadership that we expected from the national team coach, including game management, player management, and work attitude, which elevate the competitiveness of the national team,” said Mong-gyu.

KFA technical director Hwangbo Kwan also mentioned the coach’s lack of leadership in his statement. “We’ve reached a consensus that Klinsmann cannot exercise his leadership as national team head coach for various reasons and that a change of leadership is necessary,” proclaimed Kwan.

Although failing to win the Asian Cup is nothing new for South Korea, Klinsmann received heat for off-field issues. Critics pointed to the coach’s demeanor after defeats throughout his tenure at the team. Star player Son Heung-min then injured his finger during a scuffle with a teammate on the eve of the Jordan loss. Korean fans were also unhappy that Klinsmann kept a home base in Los Angeles, rather than settling in South Korea.

German coach only lost 17% of games in charge

Despite these off-field issues, Klinsmann’s overall record was quite good during his spell with the team. The German only lost three of the 18 total matches in charge of the group. Two of these defeats came against tough South American competition in his first few months at the helm.

Following these previous back-to-back friendly losses, Klinsmann strung together a 13-match unbeaten streak. The run initially began in June of 2023 and went all the way through to the loss against Jordan in the Asian Cup.

Klinsmann referenced the lengthy positive display in a departing post on X. “To all players, my coaching staff, and all Korean football fans with sincere gratitude!” wrote the coach. “Thank you so much for all your support taking us to the semifinal of the Asian Cup and an incredible journey over the last 12 months with not losing 13 games in a row! Keep on fighting.”

South Korea may find it difficult to find a better coach than Klinsmann. The former striker previously led Germany to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup. He then guided the USMNT through to the knockout stage of the 2014 tournament as well. This was a tough feat considering the Americans were in a group alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana.