Seoul — In a historic win for Ulsan Hyundai FC and its coach Hong Myung-bo, the team clinched its second straight K League 1 title on Sunday after defeating Daegu FC 2-0 at Munsu Football Stadium. The victory places Hong in the league's elite circle of coaches with back-to-back titles.
According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, Ulsan's win came with three matches still remaining in the season, further establishing the team's dominance. Players Kim Min-hyeok and Jang Si-young netted a goal each during the second half, elevating Ulsan to a total of 70 points at the top of the league tables. Pohang Steelers, in second place, lag behind with 60 points and have no chance of overtaking Ulsan even if they win all their remaining matches and Ulsan loses theirs.
Hong, 54, redirected the spotlight away from himself, stating, "Personally, I don't have special feelings. My job is to help my club and players enjoy success the best I can." He dedicated the win to the players and the team's supporters, emphasizing the collective effort that went into securing the title.
Hong is a renowned figure in South Korean football, both as a player and a coach. He tied for first with 136 caps for the country and made significant contributions to South Korea's semi-final appearance in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. As a coach, he led South Korea's under-23 national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Despite facing setbacks in his coaching career, notably South Korea's early exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Hong returned to prominence in the domestic football scene. He assumed leadership of Ulsan Hyundai FC in December 2020 and has since led the team to their first title since 2005 and a dominant start to this season.
Sunday's match attracted nearly 19,000 fans, and Ulsan's overall attendance for the season crossed the 300,000 mark. Hong expressed gratitude for the consistent support from fans, stating, "I think we're becoming a truly national club. Our supporters have stuck with us through ups and downs."
When asked about the unsung heroes of the season, Hong indicated that every player had contributed to the championship, even those who didn't get much playing time. "Their dedication has made this championship possible," he noted.