Football: Lion City Sailors part ways with coach Kim Do-hoon after headbutt suspension

Kim Do-hoon was handed a three-match suspension and $2,000 fine for violent conduct in a SPL game on July 24. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore Premier League (SPL) leaders Lion City Sailors made the shock announcement on Thursday (Aug 11) that they have reached a "mutual agreement" to part ways with head coach Kim Do-hoon.

The news comes less than 24 hours after Kim was handed a three-match suspension and $2,000 fine for violent conduct in a SPL game on July 24.

He had headbutted Tampines Rovers assistant coach Mustafic Fahrudin near the end of the match, which led to further incidents between the two after the full-time whistle.

Mustafic was also handed a three-match suspension, as well as a $3,000 fine. The punishments would bar the duo from the teams' dressing rooms and benches for their next three SPL games.

Sources told The Straits Times that the club held a staff meeting on Thursday afternoon to consider Kim's position, before arriving at their decision.

Two of Kim’s compatriots on the coaching staff have also left the Sailors. They are assistant coach Myung Jae-yong and performance analyst Kim Young-kwang.

The club delivered the news to their players shortly before releasing the 66-word media statement.

"Lion City Sailors and head coach Kim Do-hoon have reached a mutual agreement to part ways," read the statement.

"We thank him for his service, and we wish him the best in his future endeavours."

The club added that their academy technical director Luka Lalic will lead the first team in the interim.

Kim’s departure was abrupt and players, who asked not to be named, shared that he had overseen a training session on Thursday morning as the team went through tactics and video analysis to prepare for their next SPL match, against the Young Lions on Saturday.

The coach had also apologised to his players for his conduct during the Tampines match right after the game, and apologised again on Thursday morning, after punishments were meted out the night before.

Sailors captain Hariss Harun told ST: “It’s sad to see Kim go because we had some good moments under him.

“We won the SPL title and did well in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, considering it was our first campaign.

“We as players have to be grateful for his guidance and mentorship... but the decision has been made by the club, and we wish him all the best.”

Former South Korea striker Kim was the second coach to helm the Sailors full-time since they became Singapore's first privatised football club in Feb 2020. Australian Aurelio Vidmar had been coach then, and left in April 2021.

Kim, who had won the 2017 Korean FA Cup and 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League with Ulsan Hyundai, was appointed in June 2021 on a two-and-a-half year contract and steered the Sailors to the SPL title last season.

With nine games left this season, the Sailors are top of the table, one point ahead of Albirex Niigata.

Under Kim this year, they also achieved the best showing by a Singapore side in the AFC Champions League, finishing with seven points.

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