Ulsan's Kim to stand down after lifting Asian Champions League title

Michael Church
·2 min read
AFC Champions League Final - Persepolis v Ulsan Hyundai FC

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian Champions League-winning coach Kim Do-hoon has confirmed he will not renew his contract with Ulsan Hyundai despite steering the South Korean side to continental success at the end of a rollercoaster season.

Kim led Ulsan to victory over Iran’s Persepolis on Saturday to deliver the club’s second Asian Champions League title, with the win coming less than six weeks after his side narrowly missed out on claiming both the K-League and Korean FA Cup titles. Junior Negrao’s double delivered a 2-1 win over Persepolis to earn the club their first Asian title since 2012.

Despite the title win, the 50-year-old confirmed he would not be renewing his contract with the club.

“I am really happy that I made the decision to come to Qatar,” he said.

“I feel sorry that our fans could not be with us today, but I know they will be very happy with the result we achieved here.

“As for me, my contract ends today, so these are my last moments with the club. I need to get some rest back in Korea.”

Doubts had grown over whether Kim would lead Ulsan into the competition after runners-up finishes behind Jeonbuk Motors in both the K-League and Korean FA Cup.

“We lost two titles in Korea and were a bit frustrated, but since coming here the players proved that football is about having fun and being happy and I hope they can win more titles in the future,” he said.

“I was actually not supposed to be here in Qatar because the results we achieved in Korea were not so good but, somehow, I came here and my wife was rooting for the team and for me and eventually I got the honour of lifting this trophy.”

Ulsan’s victory came at the end of a gruelling centralised tournament played in Qatar as the COVID-19-affected competition reconvened in a bio-secure bubble in the Gulf state.

Kim’s team put their erratic domestic form behind them to win nine games in a row in Doha and victory means Ulsan join Jeonbuk in a select group of clubs to win the Asian Champions League twice since its inception in 2002.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Michael Perry)