July 30, 2007 / 6:15 AM / 12 years ago

Soccer-South Korea players urge Verbeek to stay on

SEOUL, July 30 (Reuters) - Members of South Korea’s returning Asian Cup squad urged head coach Pim Verbeek to reconsider his decision to resign on Monday, saying he was the right man for the job.

Verbeek announced his resignation at a news conference on Saturday after South Korea secured a penalty shootout victory over Japan in Palembang to clinch third place in the tournament. He said he had asked the Korean Football Association (KFA) to terminate his contract, and the KFA said on Sunday they were discussing a possible successor.

“There is no one who knows Korean players as well as Verbeek. The players are even saying we should try and stop him,” striker Lee Chun-soo was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency after arriving back in Seoul on Monday.

Dutchman Verbeek, 51, had served as an assistant coach during South Korea’s World Cup run in 2002 under compatriot Guus Hiddink when the team advanced to the semi-finals

He worked again with Korea during the 2006 tournament under another Dutchman, Dick Advocaat, before being named coach in June 2006.

Verbeek came under heavy criticism from local media over the team’s defensive tactics during the Asian Cup. South Korea’s last three matches in the tournament ended 0-0, forcing penalty shootouts on each occasion.

“People are talking about problems with his tactics but they’re the same ones we used when Guus Hiddink was coach. We are the problem, not the coach,” Lee, a forward with Ulsan Hyundai, added.

Striker Lee Keun-ho said at the same news conference: “Verbeek’s tactics and training methods are good.”

“This is not just the coach’s responsibility. Rather, it’s ours,” Lee added, according to Yonhap.

The KFA is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide on its course to look for a replacement. Verbeek reiterated his intention to step down when he arrived back in South Korea.

South Korea went into the tournament as one of the favourites but finished second in their group behind Saudi Arabia and lost to eventual champion Iraq on penalties in the semi-finals.

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