South Korean football coach Kim Jong-boo said Monday his goal for next season is to help his club Gyeongnam FC survive in the top flight K League Classic following their promotion.
Kim led Gyeongnam to the league championship in the second division K League Challenge, and they earned a promotion to the top division for the 2018 season. With his achievement, the 52-year-old was named the best coach for the 2017 Challenge season at the K League Awards on Monday.
Gyeongnam will return to the Classic for the first time since 2014, but Kim said the celebrations are over and he is focusing only on preparing for the new season.
Gyeongnam FC head coach Kim Jong-boo speaks after he was named the Coach of the Year for the 2017 K League Challenge season during the K League Awards at a Seoul hotel on Nov. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)
Kim, who has been coaching Gyeongnam since 2016, said his goal is to keep his club in the Classic and avoid return to the Challenge just after one season.
"Our goal is not a big one, but to remain in the Classic," Kim said. "It's not going to be easy for us to make a big impact in the Classic, but we'll do our best."
This season in the Classic, Gangwon FC and Daegu FC, the two clubs that had been promoted from the Challenge, made an impression in avoiding relegation. Gangwon even made it into the upper group, or Group A, in the league's split system.
Kim said his team tends to be more like Daegu -- which finished eighth in the Classic this season -- because Gyeongnam can't spend big money like Gangwon, which signed some big-name players last winter.
Gyeongnam are run by South Gyeongsang Municipal Government, and they generally have a small budget compared to corporate-owned clubs.
"We'll have to see the budget from the municipal government, but it's not going to be sufficient," he said. "But if we keep staying in the Classic, I believe there's going to be a way to boost our squad."
Kim, former star forward who represented South Korea at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, said it's true that newly promoted clubs need some time to make good results in the Classic. And he said whatever it takes, Gyeongnam must survive in their first Classic season after promotion.
"If we keep playing in the Classic, it will give valuable experience to our players and that makes the team stronger," he said. "For teams like ours, we need to stick together and focus on making the team as one unit because that will help us survive in the league."
Kim said he hopes to recruit three or four players for the upcoming season. He said it's important for Brazilian striker Marcos Vinicius Amaral, better known as Marcao, to stay with the club.
Marcao won the MVP award as well as the scoring title in the 2017 Challenge season. He netted 22 goals in 32 matches.
"We don't know what's going to happen with Marcao, but if he leaves the club, we'll obviously need a forward who can score some goals," he said. "I also want to add an energetic midfielder who can help us on both defense and offense. Although we have succeeded in the Challenge, we do have to be aware that the Classic teams are at a different level." (Yonhap)