Hong Myung-bo takes head coaching job in China

December 17, 2015
Korean Manager Hong Myung-bo. (Korea Times file)

Hong Myung-bo. (Korea Times file)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Former national football head coach Hong Myung-bo has joined a Chinese club, becoming the latest South Korean coach in the top-flight Chinese competition.

Hangzhou Greentown FC announced that they have signed Hong to a two-year contract, ending weeks of speculation on the coach’s future. He reportedly traveled to the Chinese city Wednesday to finalize the deal with the club.

Hong’s images graced the club’s website with the message “Welcome to Hangzhou, Hong Myung-bo” written in both Korean and English.

Hong coached South Korea to the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, the country’s first Olympic medal in football. He took over the senior national team a year ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where South Korea crashed out of the group stage with one draw and two losses, costing Hong his job.

The former national team captain has not yet coached at the club level.

“We’ve decided to hire Hong as our new head coach after a long deliberation,” the club said on its website. “Hong was one of the most famous players in Asia, and he led South Korea to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. We hope his leadership will help us achieve better results next season.”

Earlier in the day, Hong’s scholarship foundation had also announced the coach’s new job, saying Hong was “moved by Hangzhou’s football philosophy and their willingness to bring him on board.”

Through the foundation, Hong said, “I’d like to give everything I have to create a bright future for this club. I understand clearly what the club wants, and I’d like to contribute to the development of the players (in the long term).”

Hong is the third South Korean coach in the Chinese Super League, joining Park Tae-ha at Yanbian Changbaishan FC and Chang Woe-ryong at Chongqing Lifan FC.

Founded in 1988, Hangzhou Greentown competed in the second division from 2001 to 2006, and earned their promotion to the Super League in 2007. They finished 11th among 16 clubs this past season.