Coach Chung takes a chance on relegation-threatened side

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Mai Duc Chung, who helped Vietnamese women footballers win two consecutive Southeast Asian Games championships in 2003 and 2005, will coach V-League relegation-threatened club Navibank Saigon.

Navibank Saigon, formerly the Fourth Military Zone, is ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the country's top-tier league. Chung's decision to take over the reins came as a surprise to many given his previous positions.

Chung told Thanh Nien on Sunday that the officials of the Vietnam Football Federation and the Ho Chi Minh City Football Federation encouraged him to take the position. He will coach the Ho Chi Minh City side till the end of the 2010 season and is expected to help the club avoid relegation to the second-tier First Division.

Chung used to be head of the football department of the General Department of Physical Training and Sports. After helping Vietnam's female footballers win gold medals at the SEA Games in 2003 and 2005, he took the Vietnamese Under-23 male football squad to the third qualifying round of the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

Binh Duong, who won the V-League championship in 2007 and 2008, invited Chung to take charge in mid 2009. He guided the team to second place in the V-League that year. The side also became the first Vietnamese football club to reach the semifinals of Asia's second-tier AFC Cup in 2009.

After eight rounds of V-League 2010, Binh Duong was ranked fourth, five points adrift of top-placed Hanoi T&T. The club was dissatisfied with the team's progress and fired Chung on April 12.

Another V-League club Hai Phong Cement invited Chung to be the club's technical manager. His monthly salary at Binh Duong was VND40 million. It was between VND50 and 60 million when he moved to Hai Phong and is now expected to be no less than VND60 million (US$3,158).

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