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(LEAD) FC Seoul coach leaves for China, replaced by ex-teammate

All Headlines 18:00 June 21, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 8-9, 13)

SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- FC Seoul head coach Choi Yong-soo is joining Chinese side Jiangsu Suning after all.

Choi will leave the K League Classic football squad, barely a year after turning down a lucrative offer from the Chinese Super League club. Terms of his deal with Jiangsu weren't immediately available.

Jiangsu sacked their head coach Dan Petrescu earlier this month and Tang Jing has been serving as caretaker since.

Last July, Choi famously rejected a reported 5 billion won (US$4.3 million) offer for two and a half years. The former national team striker spent the majority of his club career with FC Seoul's earlier incarnations, the LG Cheetahs and Anyang LG Cheetahs. After turning down Jiangsu's offer, Choi said he put loyalty ahead of money in making that decision.

Choi, 42, took over FC Seoul as an interim coach in 2011 and became the full-time boss the following year. Choi led the club to the K League title in 2012, becoming the first ever to win the championship as a player, an assistant coach and the head coach for the same franchise.

FC Seoul finished in second at the 2013 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, and Choi was named the AFC Coach of the Year for his efforts.

Choi's last match with FC Seoul will be an FA Cup round-of-16 contest against the second-tier club Ansan Mugunghwa FC on Wednesday at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

FC Seoul are currently in second place in the K League Classic with 30 points, one behind the two-time defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Choi becomes the fifth South Korean coach in the 16-team Chinese league, joining Hong Myung-bo of Hangzhou Greentown, Chang Woe-ryong of Chongqing Lifan, Lee Jang-soo of Changchun Yatai and Park Tae-ha of Yanbian Funde. All but Park signed in 2016.

FC Seoul will replace Choi with another veteran K League coach, Hwang Sun-hong.

Hwang, 47, coached Busan IPark from 2008 to 2010, and was at the helm of Pohang Steelers from 2011 to 2015. He achieved the rare double with Pohang in 2013 by winning both the K League Classic and the FA Cup.

FC Seoul said Hwang will be on the bench in the club's home match against Seongnam FC on June 29. FC Seoul have reached the quarterfinals at this year's AFC Champions League, and will take on Shandong Luneng of China in the two-legged series.

Hwang is signed through the end of the 2018 season.

Hwang and Choi were teammates at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and again at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where South Korea reached the semifinals.


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