All Change In Overseas Ranks.
South Korean clubs teams don’t change coaches at the drop of a hat and usually wait until the season ends before taking a look at how their man in the hotseat has done. Sackings are rare, coaches tend to leave as contracts end or better offers come along. This off-season period is a little unusual however as three of the four clubs that were under overseas stewardship last season will have a new coach when the 2010 K-League season kicks off at the end of February.
Only Incheon United will have the same foreign face in 2010. Serbian Ilja Petkovic was rewarded for taking the West Coast club into the championship play-off series in 2009, his first season in Korea, by being offered a new one-year contract.
FC Seoul, Pohang Steelers and Jeju United have all seen their coaches head out of South Korea. The biggest story and the biggest shock has been the Keluaran HK convoluted departure of Sergio Farias from Pohang. The Brazilian led the team to the 2007 K-League title and then, famously, the 2009 Asian crown.
Such success naturally attracts covetous eyes. In December, reports started to surface that suggested he was talking to Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli. “It is ridiculous that they publish something which is not true,” Farias replied when asked about the rumours. “Teams from West Asia tend to say things before checking all the facts just to show off. This kind of behavior should be avoided.”
Pohang CEO Kim Tae-man also dimissed the reports. “Farias is now famous so these kinds of rumours are common,” said Kim. “I know him personally and I don’t need to even ask him about it because it is not an issue.”
It soon became one as Farias signed an 18-month deal with the Jeddah club worth a reported $2.5 million. That dwarfed his Pohang pay and despite the manner of his leaving, his five years and success in Korea meant that Farias left with good wishes.
Pohang openly talked of their desire for another Brazilian coach and hired Waldemar Lemos de Oliveira, a 55 year-old with experience coaching in Japan and Saudi Arabia as well as his native Brazil. He has signed a one-year deal at his new club and will join them with immediate effect.
“He has lots of experience with big clubs in Brazil and he has also worked in the Asian region, and he is able to get the players working together well as a unit,” Kim Tae-Min said.
“Most of all, however, he showed a good understanding of Pohang Steelers and what we are about. He likes to play fast and attractive football that excites the fans and wants to win respect from other teams through beautiful and clean football.”
Oliviera will be able to communicate easily with the new boss at FC Seoul. Nelo Vingada hails from Portugal but has coached all over the world. He replaces Senol Gunes who returned to Turkey in December as his three-year contract with Seoul expired.
It is not the most inspiring choice for Seoul fans. Gunes was named FIFA’s coach of the year in 2002 as he took an unheralded Turkey team into third place at the World Cup. Vingada’s list of jobs may be lengthier but doesn’t carry the same weight. His last national team position was with Jordan.
“I’m very happy to be here. My feelings are very optimistic,” Vingada told local media as he arrived. “I believe that by training hard, as a team, as a family, we will achieve what everybody wants.”
The 56 year-old, who won the Egyptian title with Zamalek, aims to do the same for FC Seoul.
“My challenge, the challenge of the team, the challenge I want to bring to the players, is to make first (place),” he said. “It’s a new year, a new time, so when we start our training, we will have my new ideas and the support of the staff. I want to see FC Seoul on the list of winners of the K-League. I am here for this challenge.”
Jeju United parted company with Brazil’s Artur Bernandes after a fairly unspectacular two seasons and the club has decided not to follow the example set by Seoul and Pohang. A Korean has been appointed in the shape of former national team Under-17 and Under-23 Park Kyung-Hoon.There is less pressure on Park. Pohang and Seoul are expected to battle for the title. For Jeju, a mid-table ranking will suffice.
For the new boys, now is the time for some pre-season training in warmer climes, not there are many of those around at the moment, but the real heat comes with the kick-off of the 2010 K-League season.