Diego Forlan was finally unveiled as a Kitchee SC player on January 12th in a press conference held at the Kerry Hotel in Hung Hom.
The 2010 World Cup golden ball winner expressed his delight at moving to Hong Kong and made comparisons between the city and his time in Japan with Cerezo Osaka. The 38-year-old said that he looked forward to the upcoming Champions League campaign as well as competing domestically. Forlan believes Kitchee have a ‘good chance of doing well’ and emphasised the importance of their home games in the ACL.
Although he has been away from professional football for around 15 months since his spell in India with Mumbai, Forlan has been training and maintaining fitness in his native Uruguay. The former Manchester United forward mentioned that he was first contacted by the club ‘a few months ago’ and that he had been in regular contact with former Mumbai and now current Kitchee teammate Krisztián Vadócz who he looked forward to linking up with once again.
Forlan stated that he was available for immediate selection starting with Sunday’s home game with Southern, although he was less certain about what the future holds beyond his current contract. He did state, however, that he was greatly looking forward to his 20th year in professional football and that this milestone was one he had been targeting for some time.
Coach Alex Chu spoke of his delight at such a high profile signing for the club and for Hong Kong football and it would be hard to argue against the achievements of a player as accomplished and experienced as the Uruguayan talisman. Forlan will join the team training for the first time on Saturday, January 13th, scheduled for 11:00-12:30 at the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre in Shek Mun.
Regarding the foreign players participating in the Champions League, Alex Chu announced that in addition to Forlan, Krisztian Vadocz and Fernando Pedreira will take two out of the three remaining foreign players’ spots. The last slot will be announced as early as next week as Chu is still observing the health status of Helio, who has been sidelined due to back injury since November of last year. In theory, it will be a spot to grasp between two Koreans, Kim Bongjin and Kim Dongjin, who are the only Asian foreign players on the Kitchee roster.
Moreover, Chu also announced the return of loanees Jordi Tarres (Lee Man), Cheng Chin-lung (Dreams), and Li Ngai-hoi (Pegasus) to solidify team squad for the Asian Champions League and local competitions. Matt Lam is loaned to Lee Man for the remainder of the current season.
Forlan’s high-profile signing also had an immediate impact on ticket prices. Starting from Sunday, January 14th, all home games of Kitchee in the Hong Kong Premier League will be priced at HK$150 for adults and HK$50 for students/seniors (compared to HK$120/40 prior to Forlan’s arrival).
In addition, Kitchee have also announced both logistics and ticket arrangements for the Asian Champions League campaign. Two of the matches will take place at Hong Kong Stadium, on Tuesday, February 20th, and Wednesday, March 14th, while the final home game will be staged at Mong Kok Stadium on Wednesday, April 4th.
The regular tickets will be priced at HK$300 and HK$250 (depending on the category of the assigned seat). There will also be a limited number of tickets available for students and seniors which only cost HK$100. Pre-sales for the first two home games will start on January 22nd, 10:00 am, and tickets can be purchased via www.cityline.com or via the Cityline hotline (2111 5333). Tickets can be purchased until one day before the game. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the stadium on match day (starting from 10:00 am).
Members of Kitchee’s Bluewaves fan group (who have registered on or before January 13th) can buy ACL tickets priced at HK$180 or HK$60 (concessionary). Fans who join the club at a later date will not be eligible for the discounted tickets.
ACL home game schedule:
Tue, 20-Feb-2018 – Kitchee vs Jeonbuk Hyundai – Hong Kong Stadium – 20:00
Wed, 14-Mar-2018 – Kitchee vs (Kashiwa Reysol – TBC) – Hong Kong Stadium – 20:00
Wed, 04-Apr-2018 – Kitchee vs (Tianjin Quanjian/Brisbane Roar – TBC) – Mong Kok Stadium – 20:00
Additional reporting by Patrick Au-Yeung and Tobias Zuser.