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Last-place football club scraps plans for reunion with cancer-stricken ex-coach

08:18 June 30, 2020

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- Incheon United, the last-place club in the top division South Korean football league, will not bring back their cancer-stricken former head coach Yoo Sang-chul after all.

Team officials said Tuesday that Yoo, who left the bench in January to continue his battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, has been told by his doctors that it'd be too much of a health risk for Yoo to return as head coach.

The club had confirmed reports Monday that Yoo had approached Incheon's senior executives and expressed his desire to take the coaching reins again.

In this file photo from Nov. 30, 2019, Yoo Sang-chul (C), head coach of Incheon United in the K League 1, celebrates with his coaches after Incheon avoided relegation thanks to a 0-0 draw with Gyeongnam FC at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Yoo, 48, was first diagnosed with cancer in October, but he still finished the 2019 season as Incheon's boss in November, helping Incheon avoid relegation in the process.

Yoo's successor, Lim Wan-sup, resigned Sunday following the club's seventh straight loss. With two draws and seven losses, Incheon are stuck in 12th and last place, and remain the only winless club this season.

Following his resignation in January, Yoo was named Incheon's honorary head coach, and the club asked him Tuesday to remain in that position.

"We'll ask him for advice until we hire a new head coach," a team official said. "We were able to see that coach Yoo cares so much about our club, and we're trying to figure out what the best course of action is for us."

Incheon will have their senior assistant Lim Joong-yong in the interim head coaching position for the time being.

Incheon's next match is against Suwon FC in the third round of the Korea Football Association Cup on Wednesday. Their next K League contest is against Ulsan Hyundai FC on Saturday.

Yoo recently completed multiple rounds of treatments and has been told by doctors that he could engage in some outside activities. Because of his familiarity with the squad and his inspirational personal story, Yoo may seem to be a perfect fit to turn the season around for Incheon.

On the other hand, Yoo isn't yet cancer-free, and the stress that comes with coaching a football team could pose serious health risks, even for those without cancer.

In this file photo from June 5, 2020, members of Incheon United react to their 2-1 loss to Gangwon FC in their K League 1 match at Incheon Football Stadium in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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