|Bozidar Bandovic will take charge of Việt Nam champion Hà Nội FC in 2023. — Photo danviet.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội FC has signed a contract with coach Bozidar Bandovic, who is expected to maintain the champions at a high peak nationally and internationally.
Hà Nội finished the 2022 season with double titles of V.League 1 and the National Cup. They will be Việt Nam's representative at the AFC Champions League.
Ahead of the one-year deal announced in the capital city on January 3, the Serbia & Montenegro coach overcame candidates from Japan, Spain, Italy and England to take the top spot, which was left abandon after Hà Nội ended their relationship with South Korean Chun Jae-ho in December.
Bandovic, 53, played for European clubs such as Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) and Olympiakos (Greece) before switching to be a coach in 2004.
In his coaching career, he took charge of Olympiakos and guided the team to the final-16 round of the UEFA Champions League in the 2009-10 season before moving to FC Baku in 2012-13.
In 2014, he worked in Thailand and signed contracts with Buriram FC, BEC Tero and Sisaket. Three years later, he was back to Buriram and converted the club into the country's powerhouse with two national championships in a row in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The side entered AFC Champions League's round of 16 in 2018.
Before coming to Việt Nam, Bandovic worked with Chennaiyin of India.
"It is the first time I have been in Việt Nam. As my habit, I spent time to research about the culture and lifestyle of a new land before I arrive," said Bandovic. "I will definitely discover more. But my key task here is to lead Hà Nội to success."
HAGL's big change
In other moves in the national football league, former champions Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) ended their contracts with home-grown stars Nguyễn Văn Toàn, Vũ Văn Thanh, Lương Xuân Trường and Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy.
|Duo Nguyễn Văn Toàn (left) and Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy are among five key players leaving Hoàng Anh Gia Lai for new homes in 2023. — Photo of VFF|
They are the club's first generation of players trained at the Hoàng Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG, which is now Hoàng Anh Gia Lai JMG.
After 15 years, the boys have grown up and developed as national team members.
On January 3, HAGL posted goodbyes to defender Duy and striker Toàn on the Facebook fanpage and wished them luck with their new teams.
One day earlier, it was defender Thanh and midfielder Trường announcing their departures.
Duy and Toàn, both 26, were regular faces of HAGL and the national team in recent years. They have contributed to Việt Nam football's success at regional and continental tournaments.
Duy has confirmed that he was negotiating to play with Nam Định FC and it could be announced after the end of the ongoing AFF Cup, where Việt Nam advanced to the semi-finals.
Toàn also did not reveal his new home but in recent weeks, he has been rumoured to be in talks to compete for South Korean Seoul E-Land in the K.League 2.
Similarly, defender Thanh wants to find a new home after saying thanks to the club, managers and staff.
“My appreciation is to Uncle Đức (Đoàn Nguyên Đức, owner of HAGL) who has taken care of me since I was a boy and nurtured me to be the player I am today. My thanks go to all members and staff of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC who have supported me during this time," Thanh posted on his Facebook page.
"Thank you fans who have watched and encouraged me. I wish success for the team in the new season and I will always support and be by the club's side. Thank you for everything!"
Midfielder Trường meanwhile shared: "It is difficult and emotionally to write these words, I can't describe my feelings now. It has been 15 years since I joined Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, a time even longer than my childhood living with my parents. Uncle Đức played a big role in my career, helping me to be successful today. I cherish every moment of living and working with everyone in the club. I wish the best for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, which will always be my home to return to."
It is said that Trường will play for Hải Phòng for two years and receive VNĐ6 billion (US$254,000) along with a monthly salary, but the two sides did not confirm the information.
Last month, talented striker Nguyễn Công Phượng was the first one to leave. The national idol announced his two-year contract with Japanese side Yokohama.
Five key players leaving will be a headache for coach Kiatisuk Senamuang, who will have to fill the hole with his young players.
In the new season, which will begin next month, Dụng Quang Nho, Đinh Thanh Bình, Lê Minh Bình, Trần Thanh Sơn, Nguyễn Quốc Việt and Lê Văn Sơn will have to shine. They will be guided and supported by veterans Trần Minh Vương and Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, who are among the first self-trained generation of players and decided to extend their contracts with the team. — VNS