AFC Men's Coach of the Year 2016: Choi Kang-hee
Abu Dhabi: AFC Champions League 2016 winning coach Choi Kang-hee of Korea Republic club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors won the AFC Coach of the Year accolade at the AFC Annual Awards 2016 gala event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Choi beat two other contenders to land the coveted award – Japan’s 2016 AFC U23 Championship winning coach Makoto Teguramori and Atsushi Uchiyama who led the Japanese to their first ever AFC U-19 Championship title in Bahrain.
The 57-year-old’s latest achievement comes less than a week after the Korean guided Jeonbuk to their second AFC Champions League title thanks to a 3-2 aggregate success over Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates.
"I really don't think it would have been possible to win this Coach of the Year award without the support of the Jeonbuk fans, especially those who came to the AFC Champions League second leg in Al Ain," Choi told the-afc.com.
"Like them, I was extremely happy to win the ACL title and I really appreciate their support. I also greatly appreciate the players who worked very hard to reach the final.
"This truly has been a very memorable and special year for me."
Having been at the helm of the K League Classic giants during their successful continental campaign in 2006, the Yangpyeong-born tactician is now the only coach with two titles under his belt in the current AFC Champions League era.
Choi started his stint with Jeonbuk in 2005 before leaving to coach the Korea Republic national team in 2011 who he helped qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Choi re-joined the Jeonju-based club in 2013.
The former defender also has four K League Classic titles won in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015 to his name, as well as the Korean FA Cup crown in 2005.
Meanwhile, fellow nominee Teguramori is set to be honoured with an AFC Special Recognition Award for guiding Japan’s U23s to continental glory in January.
Japan’s impressive success in Doha earned them a spot at the Rio Olympics where Teguramori’s side – despite not making it out of the Group Stage – earned plaudits galore while registering a 1-0 win over Sweden, a 2-2 draw with Colombia and a narrow 5-4 defeat at the hands of eventual semi-finalists Nigeria.