JURGEN Klinsmann‘s broad smile is part of his charm.
But on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 in Qatar, the South Korea coach was left to explain why he was grinning after his team suffered a painful defeat in the semifinals of the Asian Cup.
Klinsmann warmly congratulated Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta on the field after his team produced a big upset with a 2-0 win at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Perhaps a little too warmly.
“For me it’s normal to congratulate the other coach when his team was better in a game. I think this is a sign of respect,” Klinsmann said when questioned about his post-game reaction.
“They deserved this win today. They were the better team, but this is for me totally normal. If you say I shouldn’t smile, give somebody a smile that deserves a compliment in that moment, maybe we have different approaches.”
There has been criticism of Klinsmann and South Korea’s performances in reaching the semifinals. His tactics were questioned and the general impression is that he should have done more with such a talented squad, led by Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.
So it may have been jarring for some to see him smile as cameras focused on him after the final whistle against a Jordan team ranked 64 places below South Korea in FIFA’s rankings.
He could then be seen seeking out Ammouta, who was celebrating on the field with players and staff.
It remains to be seen what the fallout will be after defeat to Jordan, which had never reached the semifinals of the Asian Cup before and had only advanced to the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage — behind South Korea.
“I am very disappointed. I’m angry because we should have done better tonight,” Klinsmann said. “We were not existent the first 20 or 30 minutes. That’s why I’m saying we give them respect because they were better and they wanted it more.
“But when the game is over I congratulate another coach and you smile just because of him personally and you congratulate him. I think it is not a big deal. I am certainly not walking around tonight and smiling all over the place. There were reasons why we lost this game. We have to accept those reasons. If the other team showed more on the field, which they did, then you have to give them respect.” / AP