Kitchee aim to become first-tier team in Asia

Kitchee SC held their pre-season press conference on July 12th and used this opportunity to present their new players and introduce their plan for the upcoming 2018/19 campaign. 

General manager Wilson Ng defined the team’s main goal of the season: to earn a berth in the 2019 AFC Champions League group stage via the qualifying round. Moreover, they would try to keep on track of the previously announced “2nd 10-Year Plan” to become a regular participant in Asia’s most prestigious club competition.

With the likes of Krisztian Vadocz, Lam Ka-wai, Lo Kwan-yee, Lam Zhi-gin, Alex Akande, Sandro, and Paulinho all departing, the expectations for the new signings were relatively high. So far, there have been four key newcomers: Mohamed “Momo” Sissoko, Josip Tadić, Yuto Nakamura, and Ju Yingzhi. Former Liverpool and Juventus midfielder Sissoko has rich experience in European football, while Tadić, an U21 international striker for Croatia, previously played in France’s Ligue 1 and the 2. Bundesliga in Germany. Nakamura, who will soon obtain his HKSAR passport, played for Tai Po last season, while Ju, a current Hong Kong representative, has joined from Eastern. This means that Kitchee will retain at least Lucas Silva, Fernando, and Kim Bongjin as their foreign aids. The future of Kim Dongjin has not been decided yet.

According to head coach Alex Chu these acquisitions should allow the team to increase its versatility, so that the players will be able to adopt various formations in different competitions and follow several game plans. In addition, the total number of players in the roster has been slightly diminished to boost the individual’s playing time throughout the year. Chu also mentioned that Law Tsz-chun and Matt Lam, last season’s loanees to Dreams FC and Lee Man respectively, will return to Kitchee’s main squad. Meanwhile, three U19 players, Yu Yang Bosley, Chau Hin-shing, and Wong Tsz-ho, will join the main squad. Robert Goncalves Santos, a 22-year-old player from Barcelona B and former Brazilian U17 international, will train with Kitchee during pre-season. At the same time, Kitchee will send several players out on loan, including Chris Annan, Chan Ka-ho, Harima Hirokane, Mark Swainston, Sebastian Buddle, and Robert Stamp.

To be fully prepared, a series of pre-season matches have been scheduled during the summer. The Bluewaves will travel to South Korea from July 29th to August 4th for three friendlies against Seoul E-Land, Ansan Greeners, and FC Gimpo. After that, two matches will be played at Mong Kok Stadium where they will face Thai League 1 side Buriram United on August 18th and Vietnamese side Becamex Binh Duong of the V.League 1 on August 25th. Ticket prices for the first game are set at HK$160 and HK$40 for concession, while the latter one charges a standard price of HK$160 to all attendees. It will be organized as a crowdfunding match for the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which is expected to cooperate with Kitchee during the season. Both matches will be broadcast online via a pay-per-view channel, charging HK$50.

2018/19 Kitchee squad:
1. Wang Zhenpeng (GK)
23. Guo Jianqiao (GK)
30. Wong Tsz-ho (GK)
2. Fernando Recio
3. Daniel Cancela
5. Helio Goncalves
7. Fernando Pedreira (vice-captain)
9. Lucas Silva
11. Josip Tadic
13. Li Ngai-hoi
16. Jared Lum
18. Jordi Tarres
19. Yang Huang (captain)
20. Matt Lam
21. Tong Kin-man (vice-captain)
22. Mohamed “Momo” Sissoko
24. Ju Yingzhi
27. Yu Yang Bosley
28. Cheng Chin-lung
31. Law Tsz-chun
34. Barak Braunshtain
41. Chau Hin-shing
44. Yuto Nakamura
90. Kim Bong-jin

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