K League fans look to Lingard, Hwang Sun-hong as season begins

Interim head coach of Korean national football team Hwang Sun-hong attends a K League 1 football match between Gwangju FC and FC Seoul at Gwangju Football Stadium in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, Saturday. / Yonhap

March sees the start of the 2024 K League 1 season and the continuation of qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. As well as the questions about whether champions Ulsan HD FC — formerly known as Ulsan Hyundai FC — can win three league titles in a row, there is also the question of Jesse Lingard.It is one that all should be happy to ask. The former English international, who has played over 30 times for the Three Lions, joined FC Seoul in February to become the biggest signing ever made in the 41-year-old history of Asia’s oldest professional league. The midfielder also played almost 200 English Premier League games combined for West Ham United, Nottingham Forest and, mostly, Manchester United — one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs — from 2014 to 2023.

At 31, Lingard is not over the hill at all but has a chance to rebuild a career that has stalled as he last played professionally a year ago. There were many offers from around the world, especially as he was out of contract and therefore available free of charge, but he chose Seoul.The two parties can help each other. Lingard is looking for a fresh start and to recover past glories, and the same can be said of his new club. Seoul last won the title back in 2016 but hasn’t been a genuine challenger for the past few years and has been finishing in the bottom half of the standings more often than the top.There is interest in England and elsewhere as to how Lingard will perform. More importantly, there is interest in South Korea. Tickets have been selling well, and there will be more media exposure, too. How long this all lasts depends to an extent on the man himself. Lingard is a talented player who has lost his way a little. He has what it takes to shine in the K League, though the competition is far from easy, and only those foreign players who give it their all — on and off the field — tend to succeed.

Lingard will be coached by new Seoul boss Kim Gi-dong, who moved to the capital after leading Pohang Steelers to second the previous season. Kim is one of 11 Korean coaches in the 12-team league, with only Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the most successful club in the league’s history, having a foreign boss, Dan Petrescu of Romania.The lack of foreign coaches in the league is an issue for Korean soccer but one to be discussed at another time. The focus in recent days has centered on another former FC Seoul boss, Hwang Sun-hong.He has been named as the interim boss of the national team, replacing Jurgen Klinsmann, who was dismissed last month after an underwhelming 12 months.Hwang, who scored the first goal in that amazing run to the last four of the 2002 World Cup, will be in charge for at least the back-to-back 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Thailand in Seoul on March 21 and then in Bangkok five days later.”I agonized greatly upon receiving the offer for cooperation from the National Team Committee, but I made the decision with the intention to be of some help in this difficult situation,” Hwang, 55, said. “I will do my best to return Korean football to where it was.”Lingard 카지노사이트 and Seoul will be looking to do something similar.

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