The Local Game: A fresh start for the VFF

November 08, 2022 - 09:13
Election time can mean many different things for different people, but one thing they all signify is that it’s time for a fresh start.
Caption: Minister of Culture Nguyễn Văn Hùng (middle) at the VFF congress over the weekend, alongside national team coaches Park Hang-seo (left) and Mai Đức Chung. Photo

Peter Cowan

Election time can mean many different things for different people, but one thing they all signify is that it’s time for a fresh start.

Over the weekend, the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) elected its new leaders for the 2022-26 term.

While the newly elected leaders will rule the rooster over Vietnamese football for four years, the biggest decision they’ll make in that time is mere months away.

Coach Park Hang-seo has announced he’ll be leaving the national team set up after the AFF Championship in December, giving the new leaders the unenviable task of replacing the South Korean.

It’s an unenviable task because Park’s tenure has been the most successful in the history of Vietnamese football, complete with trophies, historic firsts and special moment after special moment.

Normally when a club or national team is in search of a new manager it’s because the former incumbent has been sacked for underperforming, making the unusual situation the VFF finds itself in an even tougher task.

So allow me to offer some unsolicited advice that should make the decision easier: change nothing.

No, I don’t mean they should spend the next few months trying to convince Park to change his mind, but they should promote from within.

While I certainly don’t think Park is flawless and am not always a fan of the brand of football his teams play, you can’t argue with the results he’s achieved in his five years in Việt Nam.

While it sounds like most of Park’s assistant coaches will be following him out the door, if I were the VFF I would be trying to get at least assistant manager Lee Young-jin to stay on.

What Park and Lee have done for the national team players clearly works for them – by all accounts they enjoy playing for and winning for the Koreans, so why not try and keep it going?

If Lee isn’t interested in making the step up, why not consult Park and get his opinion on who should take over? After all, if he wants to leave a lasting legacy in Việt Nam the success can’t just stop after he’s left, I imagine Park would give an honest recommendation.

Names like Robert Prosinečki and Božidar Bandović have already been linked with the soon-to-be vacant job and while I can’t claim to have in depth knowledge of the two men’s qualifications, I think abandoning the Park regime fully immediately would be a mistake. VNS