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​Vietnam football team’s language aide, rapped for information leak, mulls resignation

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 21:21 GMT+7
​Vietnam football team’s language aide, rapped for information leak, mulls resignation
Le Huy Khoa (first left) is seen at a press conference of the 2019 Asian Cup in March 2018 in this photo uploaded on his personal Facebook account.

A language assistant who has aided Vietnam’s head coach through several successful campaigns has reportedly asked to bid farewell to the South Korean manager, following criticism over his leaking ‘sensitive information’ of the country’s beloved football team.

It is not uncommon for the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to hire language assistants for foreign managers of the country’s football team.

While the person in charge of this position normally plays a silent role, Le Huy Khoa is a popular name among local football supporters, thanks to his great cooperation with South Korean manager Park Hang-seo, and his willingness to share behind-the-scenes stories of the team.

Khoa, who runs a Korean language school in Ho Chi Minh City, has thus grabbed local headlines with his reported resignation plan, when the under-23 team are preparing for the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship to take place later this year.

The language assistant is dubbed the ‘right hand’ of Park, as he has a great understanding of his commands and strategies and always manages to efficiently transfer them to the players.

With the help of Khoa, the communication and understanding between coach Park and the players flowed much smoother.

As the headmaster of the Vietnamese - Korean Language School Kanata, Khoa is fluent in English, Korean and Chinese, not to mention his extensive knowledge of sports.

Khoa, who started working along coach Park under a contract signed in December 2017 with the VFF, played an important role in the South Korean manager and his team’s amazing runs at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China and the 2018 Asian Games (Asiad) in Indonesia.

If Khoa really quits, coach Park will no longer have the worthwhile aid from his language assistant during the November 8 - December 15 AFF Championship, where the U23 team will be playing.

Inside stories revealed

Khoa has published two books, one about the U23 team and their miracle run in China, and the other about the leadership of Park Hang-seo.

The problem all started when the 44-year-old man, who knows much about the country’s beloved football team, made no secret of many behind-the-scenes stories when he chaired an exchange workshop about his books in Ho Chi Minh City on September 22.

During the talk, Khoa revealed the reason why Vietnamese U23 football star striker Nguyen Cong Phuong had to sit on the bench in the bronze-medal match at the 2018 Asian Games, when Vietnam lost 3-4 to UAE on penalties.

He also divulged that Park Hang-seo will recruit 45 players for the 2018 AFF Cup, a type of information only the governing body VFF has the authority to announce.   

Le Huy Khoa speaks at a book talk show in Ho Chi Minh City on September 22, 2018 in this photo uploaded on his personal Facebook account.
Le Huy Khoa speaks at a book introduction talk in Ho Chi Minh City on September 22, 2018 in this photo uploaded on his personal Facebook account.

Prior to the September 22 event, as he was on duty at the 2018 Asiad and the U23 Championship, the language assistant also repeatedly shared inside stories and professional-related issues of the teams on the Internet. Those pieces of information are also included in his two books.

Critics believed that Khoa is not authorized to publicize those inside stories, and he should focus on his main task - bridging communication between the coach and his players, rather than bragging about the behind-the-scenes secrets.

Insiders speak

A language assistant who has years of experience working with foreign coaches of Vietnam’s football teams expressed his disagreement with the way Khoa takes advantage of his job to do business.

The insider, speaking to An Ninh Thu Do (Capital Security) newspaper on condition of anonymity, said Khoa should not have revealed inside stories of the teams just to sell his books.

“This is not to mention that refraining from leaking information is among the principles of this career,” he added.

Khoa told the same newspaper that he is upset by the recent public criticism directed at him.

“I applied for the language assistant post just because of my feelings and affection for the Vietnamese men’s football team,” Khoa said, implying that he has no intention of ‘doing business’ from the advantages his position earns him.

He told An Ninh Thu Do that he had informed coach Park and the VFF of his plan to quit.

The contract Khoa signed with the VFF would automatically expire after each tournament, according to the federation’s general secretary Le Hoai Anh.

The contract does include a term that specifies cases where the language assistant is not allowed to provide information to outsiders, Anh added.

And it appears that Khoa’s employer is also not happy with his leaking information, as the VFF shows no sign of wanting to persuade him to stay.

“It is up to Khoa to decide whether to continue working with us, so the VFF has no comment,” Anh told Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper.

The VFF general secretary added coach Park holds the final decision on whether to invite Khoa to continue assisting him in the AFF Championship campaign, Anh said.

If Khoa really leaves his post, the VFF will find a new language assistant to fill in the vacancy, he added.

Park Hang-seo is enjoying his mid-autumn holiday and is scheduled to return to Vietnam next week, after which he will summon the U23 players on October 11, according to An Ninh Thu Do.

The South Korean coach and his squad will be heading for training in his homeland two days later in preparation for the 2018 AFF Championship’s opening match on November 8.

The regional football competition will be co-hosted by ten Southeast Asian cities.

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Bao Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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