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Hwang Sun-hong hires another Pohang coach, but will Kim Ki-dong be different?

Professional soccer club FC Seoul, which has been in the bottom half of the league for the past four consecutive seasons, recently appointed Kim Ki-dong (52) as its new head coach, vowing to restore its reputation next season.

Seoul named Kim Ki-dong as its 15th head coach on Thursday.

After retiring as a player, Kim turned to coaching in 2013, starting with the Korea U-23 national soccer team, and continued his coaching career in the K League as Pohang’s head coach in 2016 and head coach since 2019.

He was recognized for his leadership by being named the 2020 K League Manager of the Year after leading the team to back-to-back top-tier finishes in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. In 2021, the team finished as runners-up in the AFC Champions League, and this season they won the FA Cup and finished second in the league.

Kim Ki-dong is the second Pohang-born coach to be appointed by Seoul, following his predecessor Hwang Sun-hong. What they have in common is that they both managed to get results in Pohang despite the club’s lack of funds.

Hwang led Pohang to a league title and back-to-back FA Cups in 2013. His achievements without foreign players earned him the nickname “Hwang Sun-daewon-gun,” in reference to Heung Sun-daewon-gun’s “shake-up” policy.

Hwang Sun-hong, however, left Seoul in disgrace.

Hwang took over in the summer of 2016 and led Seoul to the league title that year, but the club faltered to fifth place in the regular season the following year, and in 2018 he was forced to relinquish the reins after the club finished ninth in the standings with just two wins, four draws and four losses (10 points) through 10 rounds.

Kim Ki-dong also earned the nickname “maneuvering magic” in Pohang, as he consistently produced results despite a lack of support.

In his five years at the helm of Pohang, Kim has led the club to the top division four times since taking over in 2019. This makes him an ideal fit for Seoul, whose primary goal is to return to the top division next season.

Most importantly, Kim has been able to compete with the likes of Ulsan HD and Jeonbuk Hyundai by playing tenacious soccer that doesn’t crumble easily despite the team’s inferior roster. This year, the team finished the season with a better record than Jeonbuk, breaking Hyundai’s “Yanggang Gudo.

It will be interesting to see if coach Kim Ki-dong’s desire to “recreate the glory of Seoul” can be fulfilled.

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