We are very proud to introduce a new regular feature on Hong Kong’s closest neighbour: Macau! Our correspondent Afonso Pires will offer regular updates on the Elite League, which just kicked off last week. In his first article for offside.hk, Afonso lays out a detailed guide to the current football scene in Macau, with a brief round-up of the 1st week in the fresh 2015 season.
Last weekend a new season started, and this year’s Macau Elite League has 10 teams (last year there were only 9). Benfica de Macau, Sporting de Macau, Ka I and Monte Carlo are the most promising teams to win the 2015 title. Benfica de Macau played two pre-season games against Hong Kong teams (Rangers and Tai Po) and is the big favourite to win the battle for the title. The champion of the last season also maintained the same structure from the previous year and signed with 3 foreign players and a couple of local players. The 3 foreigners are Luisinho, a striker that played in CN Séniores in Portugal (3rd division), Marco Meireles, a Portuguese midfielder that came from Brazilian side Grêmio Barueri, and Juary Soares, a defender that came from a Portuguese team called Tirsense. From Macau, Benfica have signed with Chan Man (one of the Macanese big hopes) from Monte Carlo and Adilson Silva from Ka I.
Sporting de Macau, last year runner up, stirred up most of the headlines during pre-season because of the rumuor that Liedson, ex Portuguese international and two times best scorer in the Portuguese League, was going to play for Sporting de Macau in 2015, but this didn’t happen in the end. Sporting only signed with one foreign player, Jorge Tavares, and some local players, Vernon Wong and Ieong Vai Hou from Ka I, Ho Man Hou (another big Macanese hope) from Monte Carlo, Chan Kin Seng from Kei Lun, Chan Pak Chun from Benfica, Vidigal and Nicolas Friedman from Casa de Portugal, and last but not least, an Australian born 16 years old player called Ethan Lay who is being watched by Manchester United.
Ka I has a new coach, Josecler, which is not new for the club, since he has also led Ka I to the title in the 2012 season. Josecler has a lot of work to do, because Ka I is a completely new team with a lot of new players, both local and foreign. From Brazil, Ka I signed with Alex, Milton, Ronieli and Batista. The new local players in Ka I are Taylo Gomes, Wamba, Nuno Capela, Pascoal Junior, Filipe Ricthie, Ricardo Torrão, Alexandre Matos and Bruno Martinho.
Monte Carlo, the 2013 champion, is the big unknown in this season, because a lot of local players have left and all the foreign players have been released. Most of the local players went to Lai Chi, but the biggest news was the exit of Leong Ka Hang to Woofo Tai Po. Now, the striker is the only Macanese player to play in a professional league. In the opposite direction, Monte Carlo signed with 5 new Brazilian players.
The remaining teams for this season are Lai Chi, G. D. Policia, Casa de Portugal, Chao Pak Kei, Macau U-23 and Chuac Lun. Among these 6 teams, Chao Pak Kei, G. D. Policia and Lai Chi are the ones that are expected to fight for the mid-table spots. Lai Chi, which finished as 7th last season, signed with a lot of talented local players (all from Monte Carlo) and there are a lot of expectations to see this team in action. The other 3 teams will fight for not being relegated, with a little advantage for Casa de Portugal (2014 2nd division champion), which is the only team that doesn’t pay anything to its players.
Round-up of the 1st match day
The first round of the season was played in MUST stadium (Elite League matches are usually played at Macau stadium) with a really pitch condition, and started with a 3-0 win of Monte Carlo over a good defensive Casa de Portugal. Monte Carlo only managed to destroy Casa de Portugal’s resistance in minute 68 with a goal scored by Thiago Silva. Thiago Silva scored his second goal in minute 73, and during stoppage time Paulo Henrique scored the third for Monte Carlo.
The biggest surprise of this first round was the 0-0 draw between Sporting and Policia. Policia defended the entire match and Sporting could not score any goal. Maybe the fact that Sporting has 3 key players injured (Bruno Brito, Jardel and Jorge Tavares) was a cause for the scoreless result.
The most anticipated match of the first week was Ka I against Benfica, which Benfica eventually winning 2-1, with goals by William Gomes (penalty), and Tang Hou Fai. Christopher Nwaorou scored for Ka I. The first half started with a lot of pressure from Benfica and Gomes already in minute 3. At minute 22 Vinicio de Morais Alves got injured and was substituted by Adilson Silva. The match was really tough, although the referee has only given out 3 yellow cards over the entire period. Ka I entered in a more offensive way in the second half and in minute 55 Christopher Nwaorou equalized. However, Benfica didn’t lose its faith and with a quick reaction scored the victory goal in minute 56 by Tang Hou Fai.
The other two matches were Lai Chi against Macau U-23 that finished in a 1-1 draw (with Lai Chi scoring first in minute 11 by Chan Tin Lok and Macau U-23 equalizing in minute 65 by Cheong Ka Chon) as well as Chau Pak Kei against the newly promoted side Chuac Lun. The latter was trashed by Chau Pak Kei trashed with a 6-0 victory. Goals were scored by the Brazilian duo Bruno Figueiredo (2) and Diego Patriota as well as by the Paraguayan Ronald Cabrera and Leong Tak Wai (2).
You can check all highlights from round 1 here:
The second round of the Elite League will see the Portuguese derby in Macau: Benfica and Sporting will face each other in a big battle that has great meaning for the Portuguese community in Macau.
Second round fixtures:
23/1 – Ka I VS Chuac Lun
24/1 – CPK VS Casa de Portugal
24/1 – Monte Carlo VS Macau U-23
25/1 – Lai Chi VS Policia
25/1 – Sporting de Macau VS Benfica de Macau
Photo Credits: Pedro André Santos