Klinsmann: “Players’ health comes first (for me)…I’m not familiar with Lee Kang-in interest”

Reporter Lee Hyung-joo = Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, 59, answered questions about himself.

Klinsmann’s men’s national soccer team won 4-0 against Tunisia in a friendly match at the Hana Bank Invitational at the Seoul World Cup Stadium from 8 p.m. on Sept. 13.

Klinsmann’s men scored four goals in the victory. It was another victory after their last win against Saudi Arabia and their first win at home.

“I’m very happy with the performance. It was a great feeling. I said to the players before the game, ‘If we show what we’ve been showing in training for the last three days, we’ll have a good game,’ and I think we did. They did what they trained for and gave it their all on the field. We didn’t lose any battles and we looked strong. It was what we talked about in training. I think it’s something that we talked about in training, that we can improve from game to game, that the players can feel that we can play this well, that we can feel that we are really good players, so I’m quite happy with that, but I think we need to prepare better from game to game.”

The following is a one-on-one interview with Mr. Klinsmann.

Q. How would you characterize today’s game?

I was very happy with the game. It was a great feeling. I said to the guys before the game, ‘If we show up and do what we’ve been doing in training for the last three days, we’re going to have a good game,’ and I think we did. They did what they trained for and gave it their all on the field. We didn’t lose any battles and we looked strong. It was what we talked about in training. I think it was a game where we can improve from game to game and the players can feel that we can play like this, that we are really good players, so I’m quite satisfied, but I think we need to prepare better from game to game.

Q. Kim Min-jae took over as interim captain. Can you explain this and comment on his performance?

▶It was good to be able to give Son Heung-min a break. Heung-min was in need of a break. It wasn’t a situation where he could push himself right now, and he wasn’t at 100 percent. Even in the last two weeks, he was pushing himself in some ways and playing when he wasn’t at 100 percent. But players want to play. Today, Son Heung-min’s desire to play was strong. But the player’s fitness is the most important thing and in the long run, we need a healthy Son Heung-min for the second qualifier and the Asian Cup in Qatar. It was a decision for me and my staff.

In terms of leadership, Kim Min-jae is already a leader. In fact, his role on the field is important, but he is also a very good leader off the field. Everything he does is very helpful to the younger players. There are other seniors, but the younger players are learning how to work out, how to take care of themselves, and how to behave on the field by watching him. We need a lot of leaders like this. I would say that Son Heung-min and Kim Min-jae are the pivotal leaders who will play an important role in this team.

But there are many other leaders. The reclusive Lee Jae-sung is also playing a leadership role, and Hwang Hee-chan is also maturing. I think the role of these leaders will be very important. It’s good to see that we’re developing as a team.

Speaking of injuries, we received a report today that Hwang In-beom pulled a muscle during warm-ups. The health of the players is the first priority and we have to be careful with the muscles. So we replaced him with Hong Hyun-seok. I told him, ‘Don’t be nervous. Show what you have on the field,’ and he did a great job. If our leaders and seniors show performances like today when they are injured, I think we can develop and grow as a team.

Q. Lee Kang-in had a great game. What are your thoughts on this?

▶The fact that (French giants) Paris Saint-Germain FC signed Lee Kang-in shows how good he is. I think it’s a new chapter for him. The UEFA Champions League is the biggest stage and there is no other competition in football. You have to compete within the PSG team, you have to compete (outside the team) with other teams in the world. I’m playing in a team where there is pressure to win every game, in a team that wins every season, and I think you have to grow and develop within that. It’s an opportunity to step up.

In fact, it’s the first time I’ve experienced such a concentrated cheer for one player, so it’s new. But I don’t know if it will help him. He’s being treated like a celebrity, not a soccer player. Celebrities don’t score goals. He’s a good player and he can improve, but I think he needs to be more humble, more hungry, more focused on soccer, in an environment where he’s only focused on soccer. Of course, the coaches, including me, need to help. The club team, where he spends more time, should also help him. I think that will be very important. But ultimately, it’s always fun to be around Lee Kang-in, he’s always smiling and that makes me happy. I’m quite happy with my performance today and I feel good. He scored through his own efforts, but he also showed passion and desire on the field. But in the long run, I want to see the things I mentioned earlier.

Q. Park Yong-woo is being used more than Jung Woo-young in the defensive midfield position. Please tell us about Son Heung-min’s physical condition and the communication process. 메이저놀이터

In the case of Jung Woo-young, we are constantly checking his performance. I know he’s been playing well since he transferred. But it’s a process of calling up Park Yong-woo for the first time and giving him time. So far, Park Yong-woo has been playing well. The one thing we’re missing is Son Jun-ho. In fact, he’s the only player we have right now who can play the number six or eight. If we go with an attacking tactic, we’ll have four strikers up front. Then we need two defensive midfielders to defend well. Son Jun-ho is very good in that role. I don’t know what’s going on right now, but I hope things will be resolved in China as soon as possible.

I communicate with Son Heung-min almost every day. We communicate every day, and as you know, I know all the people at Tottenham (because I played there), so we’re in constant communication. I’m also in communication with the manager (Enzi Postecoglou). I called up with the hope that I would be able to play. It wasn’t the case. I’m communicating every day and getting updates.

It was 4-0, but Tunisia is not a team that concedes four goals (easily). They are a very strong team. We probably scored two more goals than we thought we would, so I’m pretty happy and satisfied.

Q. The first half was different, what did you emphasize in your halftime talk? What can you take away from today’s game?

First of all, I don’t think we played badly in the first half. I think we were lacking in detail in the box. We had a few shots, but they weren’t exactly on target or on goal. Before the second half, we said, ‘We need to keep the good form we had in the first half and be more aggressive. We need to attack their flanks a lot. Especially the space behind their back five, let’s take advantage of that. We can play on the flanks and then come inside.

I think that’s how we got the free kick, and I also said, ‘I want you to be a little bit more aggressive and play with confidence.’ I think the players did a good job with that. At the top level, it’s all mental. Technically, our players are perfect, they’re good players. Sometimes it’s my job to instill that mental aspect. I emphasized that and I think they did a good job. The important thing is for them to have fun. In the case of Lee Kang-in, as I mentioned earlier, I felt that he was having fun, that he was enjoying himself, and I think it’s the role of the coaches to help the players give 100% in that situation. I was satisfied in many ways.

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