South Korea has narrowed down the candidates for its men's national team head coach to four or five, the sport's technical director said Wednesday.
Lee Yong-soo, head of the technical committee at the Korea Football Association, told reporters that the goal is to fill the coaching vacancy within September but did not name any of the candidates.
"We have contacted four to five candidates about the position," Lee told reporters at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. "We hope to have the new coach on the bench by the time we play friendly matches in October."
South Korea has been searching for a new football coach since early July, after Hong Myung-bo stepped down to take the fall for the country's winless exit from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Earlier this month, the KFA appeared close to reaching a deal with Bert van Marjiwk, a former bench boss for the Netherlands, but the negotiations broke down on taxation issues and on where the coach would spend the majority of his time as the South Korea coach.
South Korea will play Venezuela on Sept. 5 and Uruguay on Sept.
8 with three assistant coaches on the bench. Shin Tae-yong, a former head coach in the top-flight domestic competition K League Classic, will serve as the de facto interim head coach. He will be joined by two assistants from Hong's regime: Park Kun-ha and Kim Bong-soo.
After the two September matches, South Korea is trying to schedule matches against Costa Rica and Paraguay in October.
Lee Yong-soo said the KFA has gone as far as discussing salary with some candidates and added, "The most important thing is to bring a coach who will dedicate himself to South Korean football with passion."
Some media reports claimed recently that Jorge Luis Pinto, a Colombian who led the upstart Costa Rica to the quarterfinals at this year's World Cup, was a candidate for South Korea. Lee said Pinto is not on the shortlist of candidates and the KFA has never contacted him directly.
The technical chief had earlier laid out specific criteria for the successful candidate, including winning experience at the club or the international level. Lee admitted it hasn't always been easy to find individuals that meet the KFA's standards.
"The candidates that do qualify don't come cheap," Lee said.
"Not a lot of coaches view this position positively. I think they feel the pressure of having to go through the qualifying stages for the next World Cup."
Lee also revealed that many candidates have said they'd prefer to be based in Europe even if they take over the South Korean team. (Yonhap)