Kim is the front-runner for newly-created post

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2011, 12:00am


Former South China coach Kim Pan-gon is poised to make a quick return to Hong Kong to take up a newly-created academy coach job before a new national team manager arrives.

After two failed attempts to secure a high-calibre candidate for the top coaching job, the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) will recruit someone for a middle-ranking position to handle coaching matters as an interim measure.

Although the new post still needs to go through an open recruitment process - expected to be launched by the HKFA this week - it is believed the South Korean, who left South China for health reasons in December 2010, is the favourite. A technical director will also be hired, to look after coaching education, grassroots development and mini and women's soccer.

The two appointments, both funded by the government under its soccer revival scheme, Phoenix Project, are expected to bring more overseas expertise and knowledge to build strong foundations for the future.

'We need people to start all the ground work and cannot put everything on hold until the arrival of the new team manager,' said a well-informed source at the HFKA.

'The academy coach is not the national team manager and the requirements are different. We want someone who is familiar with the Hong Kong set-up but can bring new expertise and knowledge to the game. A local candidate may not fit the requirements and ideally we are looking for someone from overseas.'

Kim, 42, left the Caroliners to join K-League side Gyeongnam FC as assistant coach. But last month he declared his interest in becoming the Hong Kong manager, a post he held part-time during his time with South China, and led Hong Kong to a gold medal at the 2009 East Asian Games.

His application was rejected after he missed the recruitment deadline, but with the creation of the new post, Kim is the logical favourite.

HKFA director Ken Ng Kin said they would need someone to help the new national team manager start the foundation work. Ideally this person should have local knowledge and experience, but should also bring new ideas from overseas. He refused to disclose details, saying the appointment is still under discussion.

However, he did not doubt Kim had the ability to do the job.

'Kim is a strong contender if he applies,' said Ng. 'Most of all, he has been the Hong Kong coach and is very familiar with the set-up here. He also has the background of working in the K-League which will give him an edge.'

In early October, veteran English coach Brian Eastick turned down an offer to become the Hong Kong manager, while Darren Robinson, a former performance coach with Nottingham Forest, was rejected after attending an interview in Hong Kong, forcing the HKFA to continue its world-wide search.