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Lee Jung-hyo, who took over as the seventh manager of Gwangju

Coach Lee Jung-hyo (48) has chosen to accompany Gwangju FC for a long time. What is the immediate task that he is facing.

"I will accompany coach Lee Jung-hyo until 2027. It is the longest contract since the foundation of the club," the Gwangju Metropolitan Government said on Wednesday. The previous contract period was 2024.

Details of the contract, including annual salary, were not disclosed, but according to the soccer community, it is reportedly the second highest level after Ulsan Hyundai coach Hong Myung-bo and Pohang Steelers coach Kim Ki-dong, who is about to go to FC Seoul.

Lee Jung-hyo, who took over as the seventh manager of Gwangju in December 2021, won the title of the K-League 2 in 2022, giving his team an "upbeat." His strong performance did not stop there. He elevated Gwangju to the third place in the K-League in 2023. It is the best performance in the history of the team. Gwangju also became the first team to qualify for the AFC Champions League Elite.

The immediate task for coach Lee Jung-hyo, who has been in charge of the team for a long time, is to protect the team's "bone base."

With Gwangju rapidly emerging as a performing team, more and more batting teams are coveting key players.

"Players have grown a lot," manager Lee Jung-hyo told reporters at the Hana One Q K-League Grand Prize Awards held in Seoul on Tuesday. "The interest in the team has also increased. If the team always performs well, more teams take young players. There is a vicious circle of nurturing and reselling players. I hope the framework (of the team) remains the same. Na Sang-ho (FC Seoul) and Um Won-sang (Ulsan Hyundai) went to the batting team (after being in Gwangju) to shine. If those players had remained, how good synergy would it have been with the current players? It's a pity to think that way. I want to keep the framework of the team as it is."

Coach Lee Jung-hyo has to come up with a strategy to protect his players. "Rather than having a special strategy, I will continue to find ways to help players to exercise hard on the field. It will create opportunities for players to grow up," he said.

In addition to how he can solve his immediate homework, Lee also needs to draw a big picture. "I want to give players the impression that 'learning soccer from me will make them grow'," Lee stressed. He wants to continue to motivate players and increase the cohesion of the team.

In fact, Lee Soon-min, who became the "core of defense" in Gwangju under the guidance of Lee Jung-hyo, joined the national team for the first time at the invitation of Jürgen Klinsmann, who is taking the helm of the Korean national team, and has been participating in A-matches even for a short period of time, starting with the match against Wales in September. This is significant. This is because if Lee believes in Lee, he will be able to wear the national flag.

In addition, it may be a part that makes the team want to follow manager Lee Jung-hyo without knowing that Gwangju produced the K League 1 Young Player Award (Jung Ho-yeon) this season after producing Um Ji-sung in the K League 2 Player Award last season.

Coach Lee Jung-hyo, who has to make a big deal starting with "protecting players" amid massive sponsorship for his team's first longest-term contract, will convene a team on January 3 next year and go on a winter off-season training in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He plans to start preparing for the new season in earnest.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2023
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