Damjanovic: Coaching change has not affected us

FC Seoul were left reeling when coach Choi Yong-soo jumped ship in order to take charge of Jiangsu Suning, but Dejan Damjanovic doesn’t believe the change to new boss Hwang Sun-hong has significantly impacted the K-League side.

FC Seoul are currently on a five-match losing streak, but nonetheless, Damjanovic is convinced that Hwang will turn the club’s fortunes around despite his early struggles.

“He was coach of Busan and Pohang and he’s familiar with all the players and FC Seoul generally, so nothing changed a lot,” he told The World Game. “They’re different kind of coaches with a different style. Our new coach is really taking care of trying to improve our team tactically.

“He’s a really nice guy, (the) best striker in the history of Korean, so it’s much easier for us strikers to work (with him). He understands us, he understands the offensive part (so) I’m really happy that he came.”

The consecutive losses has seen FC Seoul fall eight points behind K-League leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, but Damjanovic is optimistic that his side will catch up with the leaders.

“If we can go five games without a win for sure other teams can make the same thing,” the 34-year-old said. “We didn’t deserve not to win five games in a row, but it happened so if it can happen to us, who was the best team in the first part of the season, it can probably happen to Jeonbuk.

“(Next week) we have a game against them at our home, (so) if we can get those three points and have a few wins in a row we can catch them again. We just need to get back in good form and put pressure on them.”

In addition to the domestic season, FC Seoul are also in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, where they will face Chinese Super League (CSL) side Shandong Luneng.

Damjanovic is determined to see his side get past Shandong as it will take them one step closer to avenging their loss to Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2013 AFC Champions League final. Guangzhou defeated FC Seoul via the away goals rule after the aggregate score stood at 3-3.

“I really, really want to give my maximum to try to prepare myself for this Champions League because I want to play in the final again,” he said. “I think this team has the quality to play in the final.

“Everybody is saying its going to be easy, for sure it’s not going to be easy, Shandong is making a lot of changes, they bought two new strikers. We just need to think about ourselves and our performance and being in the best mood and best shape without injuries.

“We are playing the first game at home, so it’s important to be in the best shape at that time. We have a chance, but you can miss very easy if you think it’s going to be easy and ‘it’s just Shandong’. Shandong is not a bad team, I played against them in China and they’re one of the best teams in China.”

With Papiss Cisse and Graziano Pelle having joined Shandong from Newcastle and Southampton respectively, FC Seoul will be in for a tougher challenge, but Damjanovic is unfazed by their presence.

“If we play our game we don’t need to be afraid of Pelle or Cisse, we just need to play our game. Foreigners cannot make that kind of difference if they don’t play 100 percent,” he said.