HONG KONG: New Ulsan Hyundai coach Hong Myung-bo will ask his players to show more unity at key moments as the South Korean legend tries to turn regional success into domestic dominance by delivering the club’s first K-League title in over 15 years.
Five-time World Cup veteran Hong replaced Asian Champions League-winning coach Kim Do-hoon last month at the helm of a club that had become synonymous with falling short of success prior to their continental title win in Qatar in mid-December.
Ulsan’s victory over Iran’s Persepolis gave the departing Kim a positive end to a four-year stint in which his side finished as runners-up in the South Korean league to Jeonbuk Motors for past two seasons.
But now the experienced Hong, who captained and coached his nation at the World Cup, is hoping he can spur his new players towards the kind of domestic dominance that has long eluded the club.
“I’ll talk to the players about having that desire to win,” Hong said, according to Yonhap news agency.
“I want to stress the importance of professionalism. It’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to get over that hump the last two years.
“Just because we’ve been runners-up for two straight years, it shouldn’t diminish the efforts we’ve put in during that process. The one thing that we’ve not done as well as Jeonbuk is we haven’t been able to come together for the common goal at key junctures.”
Ulsan won the Korean FA Cup in 2017 as well as Asian titles in 2012 and last year, but its last K-League success came in 2005 and it’s the domestic drought that Hong is determined to end.
“We have a very clear goal, that’s to win a championship this year,” said the 51-year-old, who captained South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.
“And as important as winning the title right away is, I also want to lay foundation for more titles down the road.
“I’ll build the squad around our young core and develop our youth players so that they’ll be the cornerstones in the future.”