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Asian Cup Kickoff | Star Power Graces the Coaching Arena

 Asian Cup Kickoff | Star Power Graces the Coaching Arena

coach Jurgen Klinsmann
South Korea's national football team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (C) poses with his players Cho Gue-sung (R) and Lee Jae-sung (L) during a press conference to announce the South Korean squad for the Asian Cup in Seoul on December 28, 2023(Image-Getty) 

The incident happened in early August last year. Italy's Euro-winning coach Roberto Mancini has been given two additional responsibilities by the country's football federation. In addition to the national team, he was made the coordinator of the under-20 and under-21 teams, and literally the responsibility of the entire Italian football was handed over to him.

  But Mancini left the job after a week. It was rumored that he left the 'all-power' of Italian football to go to Saudi Arabia. Although he denied it immediately, two weeks later the rumor came true. The coach who won the last Euro trophy is now in the dugout of the Asian Cup after two and a half years!

  Not only Mancini, but several famous coaches of world football will be in the Asian Cup, which will start in Qatar on Friday.

Among them are coaches who have taken the team to the World Cup semi-finals, UEFA Champions League finals, trophies in Europe's top leagues and Coaches of the Year. Whose presence is no less than the field stars of the Asian Cup, they are the big stars of the match. The presence of Mancini, Jurgen Klinsmann, Paolo Bento, Juan Pizzi, Hector Cuper and Philippe Trosier suggests such an illuminated dugout.

Take the 59-year-old Mancini. Not only has Italy won the Euro 2020, this former footballer is also very successful in club football. Inter Milan under Mancini won Serie A for three consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2008. He also won the first Premier League title (2011–12) in Manchester City's history.

Dramatically, Mancini Swarnali, who coached Saudi Arabia, brought a career with him to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is one of the favorites in the Asian Cup after beating Argentina in the 2022 World Cup. Mancini's Saudi chapter did not start well, however. He was winless in his first four matches after taking over in late August. However, the team is showing signs of improvement as they have not conceded any goals in their last three matches before the Asian Cup.

Klinsmann has had a little more time than Mancini to get used to Asian football. The striker, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player, took Germany to the semi-finals in the 2006 tournament. Outside of his country's national team, Klinsmann has coached Bayern Munich and the United States national team. The 59-year-old German legend took charge of South Korea in February last year. The team of Hyun Min-Son, Kim Min-J under Klinsmann has played 11 matches so far, winning 6 and drawing 3.

Paolo Bento left Klinsmann's place last December. This coach, who took charge of Portugal in the 2014 World Cup, was in the dugout of South Korea in the 2022 season. South Korea finished in the last sixteen after defeating Portugal in the last game of the group. Bento left the job on his own after losing to Brazil and exiting the World Cup. This time he is in charge of the United Arab Emirates in the Asian Cup. It is interesting to see how far the team that played in the final of the Asian Cup only once (1996, runner-up) will go under Bento? The Emirates, ranked 64 in the FIFA rankings, played in the semi-finals last season.

Bahrain, which has never reached the second round of the Asian Cup, will now play with a 'high-profile' coach. Argentine coach Juan Pizzi, who played for Spain at the 1998 World Cup and won La Liga with Barcelona, took charge of the team last July. He knows Asian football well in his coaching career. He was the coach of Saudi Arabia in 2017-19. The brightest chapter in Pizzi's coaching resume—leading Chile to the 2016 Copa America.

Another Argentine coach Hector Cooper is in charge of Syria. The 68-year-old coach has experience managing national teams and clubs across three continents—Europe, Africa and Asia. Cooper, who took over as Syria coach last February, made Egypt runners-up at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. He was also in the dugout of the 2018 World Cup. Before that, Valencia played in two consecutive Champions League finals under Cooper (runners-up both times) in 2000 and 2001. This time, besides being the best coach of La Liga, he also became the best coach of UEFA.

Vietnam dugout coach Philippe Trossier is also quite experienced. The Frenchman, who has been coaching since 1983, has spent most of his time in Africa and Asia. He has coached Africa's Nigeria, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Morocco as well as Japan, Qatar and several Chinese clubs in Asia. Troisier's biggest achievement in four decades of coaching was leading Japan to the Asian Cup in 2000. Made the same team runners-up in the FIFA Confederations Cup the following year.

All in all, as many as half a dozen clubs are entering the Asian Cup with 'name coaches' to get success. Now it is a matter of seeing who can translate on the field.

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