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Parting ways with Vietnam a necessary choice: coach Park

By Hoang Nguyen   January 18, 2023 | 07:31 pm PT
Parting ways with Vietnam a necessary choice: coach Park
Coach Park Hang-seo holds the runner-up medal after the second leg of AFF Cup final between Thailand and Vietnam on January 16, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Coach Park Hang-seo is ending his stint with Vietnam because he's reached his limit and the development of the team depends on the next coach. he told the press.

After Vietnam lost the AFF Cup final to Thailand on Monday night, Park gave an online interview with South Korean media. He expressed regret for not being able to win a second AFF Cup title with the team and for having to say goodbye to the players. He also revealed that there may be a possibility he could continue working with Vietnamese football in another role.

What are your thoughts after finishing five years with Vietnamese football?

I have finished my final tournament with Vietnamese football, and it's a shame that we could only come in second. The players tried their best. Although I have some regrets, I'm deeply grateful for them. It's heartbreaking to say goodbye to the players. I know that in life, it's normal to come and go, and parting ways with the team is a necessary decision for the development of Vietnamese football. Now is the time to organize my thoughts and navigate a new path.

Five years is not a short time. When did you feel like it was time to stop? What’s your most memorable moment?

I didn't think that I could stay in Vietnam that long. I thought I could only handle it for a year, but it turned into five. I have tried my best in every single tournament, but when I look back, I still see many shortcomings. As I'm doing this interview, the players are talking right next to my room. It's sad to part ways with them, the assistants and the team.

I've had many beautiful memories here, but the most memorable are the players. I think some moments I shared with players in the medical room will stay with me for a long time.

You said you will not be coaching in South Korea, but do you have any plans for the future?

I've made it clear that I won't coach in Vietnam or South Korea. In Vietnam, I have no intention of coaching another team, and in South Korea, there are many coaches that are better than me. I think that I don't have anything special to add to South Korea, because I haven't worked there for five years, so my practical knowledge has declined.

My principle is that when I do one thing, I don't think of other stuff. My agency has some options for the future and I'm thinking about them. I also have to discuss things with my family and think carefully about what to do and where to stay. The only thing I can be sure of is that I will keep doing football-related stuff because that's what I'm good at.

What do you think about coaching youth football in South Korea?

I don't plan to do that at the moment. South Korea has many sports centers and clubs for young players. If I get the opportunity, I think it's possible, but I don't know if I'm capable. It's not that I don't like South Korea, I just think that youth football training in Vietnam is more necessary. So, I'm also thinking about offers related to youth football in Vietnam.

In Southeast Asia, the number of South Korean coaches is increasing. Do you have any advice for them?

I'm not qualified to give them advice. If they coach a national team, that means their ability has been confirmed. Working in another country is not easy. You have to respect the culture there and gain the trust of the players. I think current coaches are better than me and they will do a better job.

The 2026 World Cup will increase to 48 teams. Why don’t you continue coaching Vietnam and try to qualify for the tournament?

I don't have that ambition. After my first two years in Vietnam, many people told me to leave while I'm at the top. Then I continued my journey and there are people who said the same thing to me after two more years. My friends thought the same. When I extended for another year, I looked back and saw that Vietnam had achieved several targets in Southeast Asia. The team cracked the top 100 FIFA ranking. The next plan is up to the next coach.

Do you have any regrets after concluding your journey with Vietnamese football?

During this year's AFF Cup, I only said the word "last" one time to the players. That was during the second leg of the final. I don't really want to use that word. I always want to restart with a new spirit after each game with renewed pride.

When this tournament ended, I felt upset and I regretted failing to win the title. I think I made a wrong decision at some point and if I were to coach another tournament, I'd have to think more carefully. But there are no tournaments left, and I feel a bit more comfortable. I'm just sad that I can no longer continue with the players.

What did the players say to you after the game?

I talked to them a bit in the locker room, then we hugged and parted ways.

Do you want to challenge yourself by coaching another national team in Asia for the 2026 World Cup qualification?

Everyone who watched the World Cup in Qatar saw the difference between experienced and inexperienced teams. I could feel it when I saw Qatar play. I have my shortcomings, but I'll think about it if I have an offer. However, let's see if any team plans to do that.

Do you have anything to say to the fans in Vietnam and South Korea?

I'm really grateful to the football fans in South Korea. They have supported and encouraged me even though I work in Vietnam. I'm proud to be a South Korean. I also want to thank the Vietnamese fans who have supported the team for the past five years.

 
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