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News: Nam Ki-il Appointed as new Jeju United Manager



Jeju United had its worst season in club history in 2019, managing to win only five matches all season, on their way to being relegated.  It has been no secret that there would be big changes at the club in the off-season, and that process has now officially begun, as the team appointed a new manager in Nam Ki-il on Thursday afternoon.  The former Seongnam FC man oversaw the Magpies' promotion in 2018 and was also responsible for bringing Gwangju FC up to the top flight in 2014.  Will he be able to produce that kind of magic with the islanders?  Time will tell, but he has had a track record of success when in these circumstances before as his coaching history can attest to.  KLU's Branko Belan has a closer look at the new man in charge. 
(Photo courtesy of www.jeju-utd.com)

A lot remains up in the air for Jeju as they look towards the new 2020 campaign, but if there is a positive to be taken from this, it is that they have found the next man in line to lead the club into their first ever season in K League 2.  That man is Nam Ki-il, who on two previous occasions was the architect of promotion winning seasons, the first coming in 2014 with Gwangju FC and then just last season with Seongnam FC.  This makes him the manager with the most successful promotion campaigns in K League history.

Upon his introduction to the club, Nam made it clear it is his first priority to re-establish Jeju as a proud football club and of course, to have the club back in the first division for the 2021 season.

He Has Been Here Before


He already has somewhat of a history with Jeju, albeit before the club moved to the island.  He began his playing career with Bucheon SK in 1997, staying with the club for six years before leaving in 2003 to join Jeonnam Dragons in 2004.

In the latter part of his career, he also played for Seongnam during the Chunma Ilhwa era, making seven continental appearances for the club in 2007, where Seongnam topped their group on goal difference over Shandong Luneng, but were eventually knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions Urawa Red Diamonds following a shootout in a tie which finished 4-4 on aggregate following a pair of 2-2 draws.  He would go on to finish his career playing two seasons for Cheonan City FC in the National League.

The year 2014 was a very special one for Nam Ki-il, as Gwangju finished fourth in the league which was enough to qualify them for the playoffs, thanks to standout performances from Brazilian forward Fabio Neves, who scored eight goals overall for the team that season, Lee Jong-min, who was among the leaders in assists and Kim Ho-nam, who was named to the K League Challenge Best XI.

Gwangju would defeat Gangwon FC, Ansan Police and finally Gyeongnam FC in the two leg final to seal their progress to the first division.

Things were a bit different with Seongnam in 2018, as they in fact finished second in the table to league champions Asan Mugunghwa, but uncertainty surrounding the now former military club forced them to forfeit their promotion and the Magpies went up instead.

Looking Ahead With Optimism


He now looks forward to his latest endeavor with the organization where he began his playing career.

"I am very happy to be the new manager of Jeju United, who fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional player.  I will be one with the coaching staff, the front office, the team and the fans to re-establish the pride of Jeju.  The goal is to get back to the first division.  I will realize this goal through my preparation," he said.

Outgoing manager Choi Yun-kyum sounded optimistic about the appointment, and took time to thank the club before handing over over the reigns.

"I am grateful to the players who believed in me and followed me to the end.  Jeju is a special team to me and I will always support the club."

There are also plans in the works for an entire overhaul, as a new CEO will be named soon, while Nam also plans to name a new coaching staff under him in the coming days and weeks.  It will be a busy time on the island as the club once known for Citrus Taka will look to turn its fortunes in 2020 and get back on track.

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