Football: Jang Jung keen on coaching Young Lions

Sipping kopi-o, spouting Singlish - kena, how can and waste time - Jang Jung is like many Singaporeans.

And the former South Korean international (20 caps, 1 goal) wants to give back to his adopted country through football.

He was part of the Singapore Dream Team that won the M-League and Malaysia Cup Double in 1994.

After coaching 50 kids aged seven to 12 as part of the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Cubs Programme at Sembawang Primary School yesterday, Jang Jung told The New Paper he would be keen to fill the head coach vacancy at the Courts Young Lions.

Fandi Ahmad is currently the frontrunner, but Jang Jung, who was the former Singapore captain's teammate said: "If there is an offer, I'll stay. Otherwise, I will go back to coaching the high school team in my hometown near Daejeon."

Jang Jung's wife lives in South Korea, while his 19-year-old son studies accountancy at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and his 24-year-old daughter is in an Australian university.

The 51-year-old's coaching experience include stints with Geylang United, Balestier Khalsa, the Sri Lanka national team and Perak.

As a player, the former defender made a name for himself as an uncompromising centre back who helped South Korea finish third in the 1983 World Youth Championship, and played in the 1985 Merlion Cup for his country's Olympic team before signing for Singapore.

While he has great memories playing in front of capacity crowds during the M-League days, Jang Jung believes Singapore should never return to Malaysian football after being booted out recently.

Instead, he says the FAS must focus on rebuilding the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

"It is better not to join the Malaysian Super League ever again," said Jang Jung.

"Dropping out of the MSL is good for the S.League and it's time for Singapore to make its own football league better. Otherwise, local football cannot improve.

"If people here don't care about the S.League, how is it going to survive? And how will local football standards improve? Doing other things will just be like constructing a building on loose foundations.

"Hopefully, this is another chance to set the S.League back up nicely."

Jang Jung insists youth development at club level must be made a priority, while preaching more patience in terms of expecting results.

He added: "I'm not an adviser or a consultant. But it must not be about politics, you must think about young footballers.

"If there is no good base, then local football cannot improve.

"It seems that after a long time and lots of money spent, the standard and facilities have not improved.


"Clubs are not properly developing their youth systems despite youth development being the most important aspect.

"There must be a proper system, youth coaches' salaries must increase and marketing must improve.

"Hopefully, the big companies can be more involved.

"Somehow, some people here are just waiting and expecting good results but not doing anything to help.

"I feel that clubs in this region change their coaches too fast and, as a result, it is hard to develop anything at the clubs.

"Coaches need two to three years to show the true colours of the team they have built, but some are getting sacked after six months. If this same mistake keeps on being made, it is hard to develop local football."

With Shahril Ishak, Baihakki Khaizan and Hariss Harun plying their trade in foreign leagues, and the possibility of Izwan Mahbud, Safuwan Baharudin and Faris Ramli joining them, Jang Jung feels local footballers should grab overseas opportunities when they arise.

He said: "It is good for local footballers to play abroad.

"If they have the chance, they must go for the experience because there are so many things to learn about their systems and even their way of marketing.

"For me, it was scary to come here at first because there are different things to get used to such as weather and culture, but I'm happy I did because I made a lot of friends.

"For a small country like Singapore, if a local fooballer plays well overseas... it helps to improve the image of the player and the country."

This article was first published on December 14, 2015.
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