South Korean football coach Hwang Sun-hong said Monday local fans should not be too critical of their pro football All-Star team's disappointing loss to the Vietnamese under-22 national team.
The All-Star team of the top-flight K League Classic fell 1-0 to the Vietnamese team for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in a friendly match at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Saturday.
Although this match was tagged as the 2017 K League All-Star Game, it was also considered to be an international showdown between South Korea and Vietnam, since the All-Star members were all South Koreans. The 18-man squad, however, failed to impress some 25,000 Vietnamese fans at the stadium, where they were also outshot by the hosts 21-7.
|FC Seoul head coach Hwang Sun-hong, who led the K League Classic All-Star team in a recent friendly match against the Vietnamese U-22 squad, speaks to reporters at a press conference in Guri, Gyeonggi Province, on July 31, 2017. (Yonhap)|
"It's sad that fans who love the K League didn't enjoy the All-Star Game," Hwang said during a media day event for FC Seoul on Monday. "I do have a regret on the team's mediocre performance, but it's important for us to think about developing the K League in a better way."
After the defeat, football fans here lambasted the K League, the operator of the country's pro football competitions, and the All-Star team, saying that the match in Vietnam was nothing but humiliation to South Korean football.
The league previously said it decided to stage its All-Star Game in Hanoi to explore the Vietnamese market, while commemorating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and South Korea. This was the first time since 2008 in Japan that the K League had its All-Star Game outside home turf.
Hwang said he understands the league's plan to expand its fan base in the Southeast Asian market and its latest attempt is still meaningful.
"As for the league and the clubs, it's right for the K League to grow and develop," Hwang said. "I think it's not right for people to think too negatively about this All-Star Game."
Unlike other All-Star Games, where displaying players' fancy and entertaining fans are more emphasized, the match in Hanoi was competitive and tight, as the Vietnamese played the game aggressively from the start. The All-Star squad landed in Hanoi on Friday, with little time to practice together.
Hwang previously said his priority for the All-Star Game was to return home without injured players, since the league is still in the middle of the season. The K League Classic resumes its schedule on Wednesday. (Yonhap)