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Head coach Kim vows to make tough calls to pull Kitchee out of rut

Kitchee’s interim head coach Kim Dong-jin said he was prepared to make the “tough decisions” to combat the poor results plaguing their season.

Formerly the club’s technical director, South Korean Kim entered his current role in September after Kitchee shifted treble-winning boss Alex Chu Chi-kwong into an academy coaching job following an underwhelming start to the season.

The 41-year-old, who suffered defeats in two of his opening three matches, pledged to create a “dynamic and united team”, with the end goal a repeat of last season’s silverware rush.

And after losing their opening two Group F fixtures, Kitchee face a must-win AFC Champions League game against Bangkok United on Wednesday.

Mikael Severo scored in Kitchee’s opening ACL Champions League game but his team would lose 2-1. Photo: Kitchee

“The beginning [of my tenure] is not too good, but we have a process and, at the start, we need to get back to basics,” Kim told the Post.

“Something is different from last season … the Kitchee style is to have possession, to create in the final third and finish chances. We have not reached our level, and the results have not been good.

“We want to be more dynamic, to dominate games, and it is my job to get the players to play our way.”

Kim said he stood by his decision to bench Jakob Jantscher at the start of this month’s Champions League meeting with Lion City Sailors, despite the star forward scoring the team’s only goal with just minutes left, in a 2-1 home defeat.

He also said he would always back his own judgment, with no favours for players – such as Helio Goncalves and Fernando – with whom he shared a Kitchee dressing room as teammates.

“I am comfortable making tough decisions, and communication must always be honest,” Kim said. “If I tell a player I will give him a chance to play, then I do not, how can he trust me?

Marquee recruit Jakob Jantscher was left out of the team for a crunch Champions League fixture. Photo: Getty Images

“I always tell players the truth, even if the situation is bad. And I cannot say, ‘because we are close, you can play’. I can only tell them to work hard, and be ready for their chance. Open communication and interaction creates trust, it is the most important thing at the club.

“My decisions focus only on how I can develop the team and achieve good results.”

Edgar Cardoso, Kitchee’s director of elite youth football, is assisting Kim, as is ex-BC Rangers manager Poon Man-chun. A club statement said the managerial overhaul was a chance to “bring harmony to the club”.

“There was no split in the squad, they were always together,” Kim said. “But it was not enough, we need to stick together even more. When there are foreign and local players, we are always thinking, ‘How can we have more harmony?’. We are in a good way, but it can always be better.”

According to Kim, Kitchee’s president Ken Ng had not set definitive targets for the team. The former defender was nevertheless desperately keen to help the club “take the next step” in the Champions League, which is on “another level” from the domestic competition.

And Kim said he “did not expect” to find himself in the hot seat, but the opportunity to lead Kitchee’s recovery was “an honour”, although he admitted some of the players had been taken by the surprise.

Still he paused when asked if he wanted the job long term.

“I do not know,” he eventually replied. “I just focus on today, it is a decision for the club. I accept what happens in life, good and bad.”

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