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(LEAD) Danish football coach emerges as early candidate for vacant S. Korean job

2014/07/16 20:45

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- A relatively unknown Danish football coach has emerged as an early, unlikely candidate for the vacant South Korean national team head coaching position, though the sport's governing body remains lukewarm about his interest.

A Danish sports paper Tipsbladet reported online on Tuesday that Michael Schjonberg, a 47-year-old assistant coach of the Norwegian club Valerenga, has been approached by South Korea about the top national team position.

Hong Myung-bo resigned as the South Korean bench boss last week in the wake of the country's winless World Cup in Brazil in June.

The report said both South Korea and Japan, whose previous coach Alberto Zaccheroni also stepped down after a subpar World Cup, are chasing Schjonberg. Japan, however, has reportedly agreed to sign Javier Aguirre as its new coach.

Dennis Murray, Schjonberg's agent, told the paper that the coach has a good chance of moving to Asia, without confirming if the offers were indeed from South Korea or Japan. Tipsbladet claimed Schjonberg also has an opportunity to coach a South Korean club.

According to the report, Schjonberg is under contract with his current Norwegian club until the end of 2014 but that the team will let him walk if he receives a solid job offer.

Schjonberg has been a head coach at the club level for only two seasons in Denmark and has otherwise been an assistant coach or a sporting director in Denmark, Germany and Norway.

As a wingback, he played for two Danish clubs and two German clubs from 1987 to 2001. He made 44 international appearances for the Danish national team but hasn't coached any national side at any level.

An official with the Korea Football Association (KFA) said the governing body has received letters from multiple agents regarding the job vacancy, and they all claimed to represent Schjonberg.

Another KFA official said South Korea will not rush to name Hong's replacement.

"Even if it takes us some time, there's no change in our plans to normalize our technical committee first before seeking a new head coach," the official said. "As far Schjonberg is concerned, he has shown interest in the job, but there's nothing more to it."

   After Hong stepped down, Chung Mong-gyu, head of the KFA, vowed to take drastic measures to improve operations and governance at the national football body. The technical committee, which is tasked with naming national team coaches, has especially been on the hot seat for its inadequate performance.

Later in the day, a senior official at the KFA said the governing body will restructure the technical committee by the end of July and that it is currently trying to find a new head of the committee after the embattled committee chief Hwangbo Kwan offered to resign.

Lee Yong-soo, a television analyst and a former head of the technical committee, and Jung Hae-seong, the present head of the referees committee at the KFA, are being mentioned as candidates for the vacancy.

"The new head of the committee obviously must have expertise," the KFA official said. "But the person must also be willing to take reform measures."

   The official added the KFA will also revise its regulations to eliminate ambiguity surrounding the technical committee's role. Currently, the committee is supposed to name national team bench bosses but there is no specific clause on dismissing them.

"We have to take this opportunity to further clarify the role and responsibilities of the technical committee," the official said.