With the same match line-up for Kitchee vs Eastern as last season’s title-deciding final game, the curtain raiser of the 2017-18 Hong Kong Premier League attracted a satisfactory attendance of 4,238 fans. Tianjin Quanjin’s Jean-Jacques Kilama was also in the crowd to support former employers Eastern on his short vacation from his team before being due to join up with the Hong Kong National Team. Offside.hk’s Christie Leung caught up with him to chat about his form, Tianjin and Hong Kong.
Now in his second year in his time at Tianjin, Kilama has settled in the city well and is enjoying his experience in China. Despite playing regularly for the team under former head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo in China League One, the man-in-charge was eventually axed and Kilama was hit by injury. “When Fabio Cannavaro came in, he didn’t believe in me too much and he had his team in mind. I am not playing a lot and I am not happy about it, but I won’t give up at all! I am not playing but I’ll work hard all the time to keep myself fit to hopefully win my chance.” Approaching the end of his contract with Tianjin Quanjin which expires in December, Kilama will then be re-evaluating where his future lies. “I might stay in China or I might leave, but for the moment I will focus at staying and working hard fpr Tianjin.”
Understanding his game time at Tianjin is limited, Kilama was particularly pleased about remaining in the Hong Kong National Team. “I am so happy that the coach called me to come to play for National Team so I just need to come here and give everything I have.” Looking ahead at the upcoming Asian Cup qualifier away at Malaysia, Kilama said the Hong Kong Team is only thinking about taking home all three points. “We just have to win. If we want to qualify for the Asian Cup we must win this game.” Speaking about his chance in the National Team, Kilama is ready to give his all when called upon. “I am not playing for Tianjin so I must play for the National Team with my 100%, 200%, 400%!”
The Hong Kong National Team will play an International friendly against Singapore on 31st August before facing Malaysia at the Hang Jebat Stadium, Melaka for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifier on 5th September.