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Jurgen Klinsmann hired to coach South Korea national team

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SEOUL -- Former Germany great Jurgen Klinsmann was hired Monday to coach South Korea’s national soccer team.

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The 58-year-old Klinsmann, who won the World Cup as a player with West Germany in 1990, replaces Paulo Bento. The Portuguese coach left the team after leading South Korea to the second round at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

“I am very happy and honored to be the head coach of South Korea’s national football team,” Klinsmann said in a statement. “I know well that the Korean national team has been, over a long period of time, constantly improving and producing results.”

Klinsmann signed a contract through the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

South Korea has qualified for 10 straight World Cup tournaments. Klinsmann will be expected to extend that streak with the Asian region getting eight guaranteed spots at the expanded 48-team World Cup in 2026.

After a successful playing career, Klinsmann coached Germany to the World Cup semifinals in 2006 and then led the United States to the round of 16 in 2014. He also coached German club Bayern Munich, one of his former teams.

Klinsmann’s first game with South Korea will be a friendly against Colombia on March 24. World Cup qualifying starts in Asia in October but the coach’s first target will be to lead South Korea at the next Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in Qatar in January.

South Korea last won the continental title in 1960.

Klinsmann, whose last coaching job was a 76-day spell in charge of Hertha Berlin that ended in January 2020, will be the eighth foreign coach in South Korea’s history and the second from Germany. Uli Stielike was in charge from 2014-17.