Asian champions keen to follow coach Kim to Singapore's Lion City Sailors

Kim Do-hoon has taken over at the helm of Lion City Sailors just five months after leading Ulsan Hyundai to the 2020 AFC Champions League title. Lion City Sailors FC

Ambitious Singapore Premier League outfit Lion City Sailors pulled off a coup back in May when they appointed Kim Do-hoon -- the man who masterminded Ulsan Hyundai's AFC Champions League triumph in 2020 -- as their new coach.

And it now appears that the Sailors could have made -- and may still make - even bigger statements of intent with Kim revealing that two key members of his title-winning Ulsan team were keen on following him to Singapore.

"When I got the call from the Sailors, a few players at Ulsan wanted to join me in coming to Singapore," he told ESPN exclusively.

"Kim In-sung, Yoon Bit-garam... I'm not sure if I can actually bring them here, but a lot of my players wanted to join me.

"I believe these strong personal relationships with my players was how we brought success to Ulsan. If I am able to do the same with the Sailors, I'm sure success will follow.

"In my short time here, I've seen great potential and I will be working to bring the best out of that potential on the training ground and the playing field.

"Once we get that going, I believe we can replicate the football I was able to show with Ulsan."

While landing two seasoned campaigners from South Korea's K League 1 would be quite the feat, Singapore football could also benefit from producing talent good enough to move in the other direction and compete in one of Asian football's strongest domestic competitions.

Lion City Sailors already boast a South Korean in their ranks, albeit one who has taken a different path to get to where he is today.

Song Ui-young was only a teenager when his quest to play professional football led him to Singapore with Home United, the now-defunct club that the Sailors were born from.

Now 27, Song has spent the last decade establishing himself as one of the best foreign players in Singapore football, but could he play in the K League?

"In my opinion, he should be able to challenge for a spot in the K League if he's given the opportunity," said Kim.

"The experience he's gained in his ten years here is very valuable, and I think he wouldn't be the player he is without his professionalism and the work he's put in on the training ground.

"I will also try to develop player in Singapore to have this kind of edge, so they might also be able to play in the K League and challenge for a place in the starting XI."

Having been handed the reins midway through the campaign, Kim inherits a Sailors side that are currently second in the SPL and only a point behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S).

With a wry smile, Kim replied with a simple 'yes' when asked if Lion City would win the title this season, but also preached for fans to be patient.

"There were a lot of teams interested in me, but I appreciated the long-term vision of this club," he added. "It seemed a good challenge and valuable experience that I wanted to be a part of.

"What I can say is there might not be immediate success. But, if we take the right steps, there should be great improvement as a team.

"And as we improve as a team, we will bring positive change to the footballing scene in Singapore."