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Interview: New Daegu FC Assistant Coach Lee Byung-geun


Transfer Interview: Daegu FC Assistant Coach Lee Byung-geun
2018 FA Cup Champions Daegu FC announced a surprise addition to Andre’s backroom staff by appointing former Suwon Samsung Bluewings Assistant Coach Lee Byung-geun as number two. Daegu FC Correspondent Muyeol Jung sat down for an exclusive interview with Lee, who spent six years in total as coach and interim manager with the Bluewings, to discuss his thoughts on the move, as well as what he feels he can bring to a club which will take part in Asian Champions League for the first time next season.

MYJ: How do you feel after returning to Daegu FC?

BGL: First of all, I am very grateful to Daegu FC for reaching out to me as I was worried about my future after I left Suwon. It is a pleasure to get back to Daegu again since my last spell as a player back in 2007. Once the decision was made, I looked back at my memories with Daegu - fond memories like enjoying my time here flashed back in my mind.

Lee (L) in his playing days with Daegu FC

MYJ:
What do you think Daegu’s performance as opponent, compared to the past?

BGL: I was genuinely impressed by Daegu’s performances after the World Cup break. As Suwon caretaker manager as we lost 4-2 to Daegu last season. At the time, Suwon went to Daegu full of confidence after bouncing back with a 3-0 win over Jeonbuk Hyundai in the first leg of the quarterfinals in the ACL. I thought that Suwon were well-prepared with a defensive plan which would prevent Daegu from counterattacking, but what the Sky Blues showed on the pitch on that day was beyond our expectations as the result told. In hindsight, I feel like we underestimated Daegu after such a tremendous win over Jeonbuk that had made us complacent.

From my point of view, Daegu FC are a defensively and offensively well-balanced team with stellar foreign players up front backed up by good, young Korean players. Strategically, Daegu had a very good combination of Korean players and international players in an effective counterattacking tactic. The players know exactly what their roles are on the pitch and tactical transitions from defence to attack are very quick.

Lee as Suwon Bluewings caretaker manager
MYJ: It was the first win over Suwon in Daegu Stadium since 2009. In addition, 2018 saw Daegu beat another strong side FC Seoul on the road for the first time since 2011. Daegu fans and staff were over the moon with these memorable victories. In the Korean FA Cup, the Sky Blues eventually lifted the trophy after beating Ulsan 5-1 on aggregate in a two-legged final. What do you think these achievements can bring to Daegu FC?

BGL: They may be just a few of the many magnificent results that Daegu achieved last year. But, I believe such achievements against, who are believed to be the strongest sides in the league, certainly would have given a great deal of confidence to the players, particularly the younger players. So, I strongly believe that we would have more chance to play better against them this year.

Meanwhile, as a team, these are the strongest indicators that prove that Daegu are heading in the right direction. All this success would not have been possible if there was no back up from young players at the right time. Daegu have been spending so much money on bringing young players through and helping them to grow since the current club President Cho Kwang-rae was appointed at the end to 2014. At present, I am sure that the young players at Daegu are of a similar quality to the ones in other big clubs.

In the end, winning the FA Cup will lead the club to the next level with fame and ambitions by drawing more attention nationwide and on the continent.

MYJ: What aspect do you think you can help the team?

BGL: I have been thinking myself about this for quite a long time. First of all, I will help young players to stay focused and motivated along with gaffer Andre. Usually, young players are likely to become discouraged and less motivated after they make mistakes. By then, it is imperative to keep them encouraged and motivated on and off the pitch until they step up to the next level.

On the other side, my Asian Champions League experience with Suwon Bluewings will be very useful at Daegu FC. Personally, Champions League football is certainly different to the domestic league; for example, long travel hours, different settings on away match in different countries, and very busy and congested fixtures in early stage of the season are obstacles we have to overcome. Therefore, first hand experience in the continental football is something Daegu FC will find handy.

Lee on an ACL night at Big Bird in 2018.
MYJ: Daegu FC will make their ACL debut with Melbourne away on 5th March. As yourself who has not only already experienced Australian football in the competition for last five seasons, but also have experience of coaching Australian defender Matthew Jurman, in what way do you think Daegu have to prepare for the first game?

BGL: Back in my time with Suwon as a coach, we met four different Australian teams in the group stage; Central Coast Mariners FC (2013), Brisbane Roar FC (2015), Melbourne Victory FC (2016), and Sydney FC (2018). Generally, I think that Australian players are similar to European players in terms of physicality, while they looked vulnerable with pace and reflexes. As a result, we would have difficulty in a one-on-one fight through the middle, but if Daegu can capitalise on the counter with Kim Dae-won, Jung Seung-won, Cesinha, and Edgar, then we can get three points on the road.

In terms of off the pitch preparation, we have to be extra careful with the planning of our itinerary, and what we do with regards to fatigue among squad as there is no direct flights from Korea to Melbourne.

MYJ: What would you expect Daegu from the first ACL match?

BGL: Personally, I think the Melbourne game is more of an opportunity to win than Guangzhou and this is the one we have to win to get through to the next round. Also, in terms of climate, Australia is very friendly and a hospitable place to play. Daegu can get three points if we perform on the pitch in the disciplined way in which we are preparing and we get over the fatigue whilst overcoming any nervousness.

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