Manuel Bleda, the Spanish striker, has a great eye for goal and since his arrival in Hong Kong, has produced the goods for Eastern on a consistent basis. This season, he is the league’s top scorer so far and his goal tally will no doubt increase as Eastern battle it out for the league and the variety of cups on offer.
offside.hk managed to catch up with Bleda and the grounded striker was happy to share his opinion on many subjects related to Hong Kong football such as Eastern’s title chances and why Spanish Tiki-taka is quite popular in the city.
“For Eastern, it is always the goal to work hard and try to win as many trophies as we can. Last year was not a good year for us, but this year, Eastern have improved and we will try to win the league and other trophies.”
Bleda cited the influence of Eastern head coach, Chan Yuen-Ting, as the driving force behind Eastern and how her methodologies have boosted the team’s performances this season after a lackluster showing last year.
“Chan is very smart and understands football. When we do training, we always know what she wants. She has gained even more experience and has changed our mentality again.”
When asked about his opinions on the level of football in Hong Kong, Bleda stressed that Hong Kong football has improved and that the league was overall more competitive with all teams able to take points from each other.
“The level of football in Hong Kong is good and every year the quality of football goes up. I remember my first year here in Hong Kong and only a few teams could win trophies and there were some teams which we could easily beat. And now it seems all teams can win games and fight hard in matches. I hope the league will grow and improve more.”
Kitchee have dominated local football for the past few seasons and Bleda gave some reasons why he felt Kitchee were so strong, emphasizing the mental edge that Kitchee have over their rivals, although that sense of ‘fear’ has lessened.
“Kitchee have many foreigners who became local players, so some teams show maybe too much respect. But I think this has decreased now. R&F and Southern both beat them in the league, and Tai Po drew with them.”
As Hong Kong football has quite a few Spanish players, Bleda shared why Tiki-taka is so popular in Hong Kong amongst some teams.
“The Spanish style of football is beautiful to watch and the constant passing is more attractive than a long ball over the defence. I respect all systems, though I do enjoy the passing aspect of the game.”