Mito Hollyhock on Monday announced a partnership with V-League side Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC (HAGL) as representatives from the two clubs conducted a signing ceremony in Vietnam.
The partnership mirrors that of other agreements between Japanese and Southeast Asian clubs, with a heavy emphasis on academy-level and coaching exchanges as well as collaborative marketing and tourism promotion.
The association between the two clubs began last season, when HAGL striker Nguyen Cong Phuong spent a season on loan to the J2 League side. Despite struggles with injuries, his presence at Hollyhock proved to be a significant boost for the club’s visibility in Vietnam.
Representatives of both clubs revealed at the signing event that the 22-year-old could return to Hollyhock later this season.
“Cong Phuong is the bridge which connects Mito Hollyhock and HAGL,” Hollyhock president Kunio Numata said. “Through this (partnership), we hope he will come back to Mito in the future.”
HAGL president Doan Nguyen Duc explained that the upcoming SEA Games are the reason for the Vietnam international’s return to the V-League: “The Vietnam Football Federation wants the players prepared, and that is why we need them in Vietnam.
“(Cong Phuong) could definitely return to Mito Hollyhock after the SEA Games finish. Were it not for the tournament, he and (HAGL teammate) Nguyen Tuan Anh would have stayed in Japan.”
The partnership is HAGL’s second with a Japanese club following last year’s agreement with Yokohama FC, who also play in the Japanese second division.