As season opens, four new managers bring fresh blood to K-League
The 2010 K-League season is set to kick off tomorrow, and some major changes are in store. During the offseason, the Pohang Steelers, FC Seoul, Jeju United and Daegu FC all signed new managers.
Despite the trepidation that must come with such new challenges, the four new managers are anticipating some entertaining play this season.
Sergio Farias, who led Pohang to a third-place finish and an Asian Football Confederation Champions League title as well as the AFC professional football club of the year, departed to sign with Saudi club Al-Ahli. Replacing Farias and his magic is another Brazilian, Waldemar Lemos. The veteran who has managed top-flight Brazilian clubs such as Fluminense (2002) and Flamengo (2003 and 2006) is making his first stop in Korea and promises to maintain the Steelers’ up-tempo, attack-minded brand of football.
He said he will look to continue to develop the club.
“Using Pohang’s strong performance last season as a base, I want to implement the philosophy and mentality necessary to carry over the success into the upcoming year,” stated Lemos at a K-League media day last week.
Farias had led Pohang to a regular season title in 2007, an FA Cup title in 2008 and an AFC Champions League title last season.
It will be interesting to see whether Lemos can continue the impressive run with several changes to key positions. Gone are forwards Stevic Ristic, Denilson and Choi Hyo-jin. Lemos has decided to restock his attack with Seol Ki-hyeon as well as Brazilians Almiro, Mota and Alexsandro, among others.
FC Seoul is placing teamwork and veteran leadership at the forefront of its game plan. The club, which finished the season fifth overall, will look for its new Portuguese manager, Nelo Vingada, to steer it to a league title.
While the future of FC Seoul looked bright until a few years ago, the exodus of forward Park Chu-young to AS Monaco in 2008 and midfielders Lee Chung-yong to Bolton and Ki Sung-yeung to Celtic last season has depleted the club’s core talent. The addition of veterans Kim Yong-dae, Choi Hyo-jin and Hyun Young-min looks to be a big boost.
In replacing Turkish manager Senol Gunes, Vingada is putting the emphasis on teamwork with the slogan “Familia Seoul.” Instead of focusing on individual talent, Vingada will look to lead his team to the finals through strong, family-like teamwork.
“I want to build a family that can withstand the strongest of winds. I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the Korean players, who always seem to be prepared. They are passionate and in line so there’s no need to lecture them.
“If possible, I am aiming to win all the titles this year,” stated Vingada.
Jeju United and Daegu have replaced their managers after a woeful season. Jeju decided to go with former U-17 national team manager Park Kyung-hoon, who will make his professional managerial debut with the club. In taking charge of a club that scored 22 goals and allowed 44, Park is aiming for a season in which his team scores 50 goals and allows 20.
“I want to present an energetic style of football in which our players can recover possession of the ball quickly. I will change this team so that all players on the pitch are capable of scoring goals,” stated Park.
Former FC Seoul coach Lee Young-jin will also make his managerial debut with the Daegu FC.
“I want to show a quick and aggressive style of play. I am looking forward to see how new forwards Hwang Il-soo, Song Je-heon and Cho Hyung-ik will play for us. I want our team to be judged on our style of play rather than by the record,” said Lee.
Along with Pohang and FC Seoul, Jeonbuk Motors, Ulsan Horang-i and Suwon Bluewings are being tabbed as the teams to finish atop the league standings in the upcoming season.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]