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Coach of Asian club football champs wins continental honors

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Published : 2016-12-02 10:57
Updated : 2016-12-02 10:58

Choi Kang-hee, who led South Korean football squad Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to the Asian club championship, has been named the continent's top coach of 2016.

Choi won the 2016 Asian Football Confederation Men's Coach of the Year at the AFC Annual Awards in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (local time).

He beat out two Japanese candidates: Makoto Teguramori of the Japanese men's national team, and Atsushi Uchiyama of the Japanese men's under-19 national team.

Choi, 57, is the eighth South Korean to win the AFC coaching award, and the first since Choi Yong-soo in 2013.

The AFC began honoring Asia's top coaches in 1994, and since 2010, it has been awarding separate awards for coaches of men's teams and women's teams. Of the seven previous South Korean winners, only Kim Tae-hee, who led the women's U-17 team to the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup title in 2010, was honored in the women's coach category.

Choi coached Jeonbuk to their second AFC Champions League title and first since 2006. He is the first coach ever to win the AFC title twice.

"I really don't think it would have been possible to win this Coach of the Year award without the support of the Jeonbuk fans, especially those who came to the AFC Champions League second leg in Al Ain (in the United Arab Emirates)," Choi told the-afc.com. "I was extremely happy to win the ACL title and I really appreciate their support. I also greatly appreciate the players who worked very hard to reach the final. This truly has been a very memorable and special year for me."

Jeonbuk also finished second in the top domestic league, the K League Classic, while setting the league record with a 33-match undefeated streak.

On Choi's watch, Jeonbuk have claimed the league championships in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015, making him the only K League coach with four titles. (Yonhap)