Korean coaches Park Hang-seo, Kim Pan-gon face off at AFF Championship
Korea may not be part of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) but there’s still plenty for Korean football fans to get excited about at the AFF Championship this week as Korean coaches Park Hang-seo and Kim Pan-gon, managers of the Vietnamese and Malaysian national teams, face off at the tournament.
Vietnam and Malaysia will face on Tuesday at Mỹ Đình National Stadium in Hanoi at 7:30 p.m. Vietnamese time, or at 9:30 p.m. in Korea. The two are currently competing Group B at the tournament, with Malaysia leading the group with six points followed by Vietnam with three.
Malaysia have a game in hand.
Malaysia kicked off their tournament with a 1-0 win over Myanmar on Wednesday, before beating Laos 5-0 over the weekend. Vietnam have only faced Laos so far, winning 6-0 in their opening game on Wednesday.
Of the two Korean coaches, Park has a far higher profile, having been assistant coach of Korea during the 2002 World Cup. Since joining Vietnam Park has quickly become a national hero and the face of a momentous football reformation in Vietnam.
Park, who was also in charge of the U-23 side, started off leading Vietnam to the final of the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship, beating stronger teams like Australia, Iraq and Qatar along the way. A couple of months later he led the senior team to the semifinals of the 2018 Asian Games, then followed that up with the win at the 2018 AFF Championship.
A year later, Vietnam reached the quarterfinals at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and won a gold medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Nearly all of these feats were either a first for Vietnam, or at least a first since the country was unified.
But the AFF Championship will be Park’s last tournament with Vietnam. He plans to step down after five years at the helm of the team in January next year.
Kim is a less prominent coach, having spent a large part of his playing career and his managerial career in Hong Kong. After years as a coach he entered the limelight in 2017 when he was appointed technical director of the Korea Football Association, taking responsibility for the recruitment of Korean national team coaches.
Kim spent five years with the Korean national team before being hired as head coach of the Malaysian squad in January this year. He has already seen some success in Vietnam, leading the squad to qualify for next year’s AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 42 years.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]