After a though summer for the Macau region, the 2018 football season is slowly approaching, and it starts with some good news. Benfica de Macau made history by being the first Macanese team to successfully obtain the AFC Club license.
Macau is still recovering from the passage of hurricane Hato that wrecked havoc this summer and damaged a lot of sports facilities. As of now, there are still some football pitches that are closed to the public and it is not clear yet if the start of the football season, usually scheduled for January or February, might be delayed as well. The annual 7-a side Macau football tournament was cancelled and replaced by a smaller competition.
Despite these upsets caused by bad weather, the football life in Macau continues and last month the Asian Football Confederation finally confirmed that Benfica de Macau successfully obtained their AFC Club license, which will allow them to participate in the 2018 AFC Cup. This is the first time that a team from Macau has reached this professional level.
Duarte Alves, team manager of Benfica Macau, told TDM Macau radio that “the participation of Benfica in the 2018 AFC Cup only depends on gathering sufficient financial and logistical support, as all stadiums belong to the local sports authority.” However, Alves is confident that the club will eventually be able to enter the competition.
The draw for the group stage of the 2018 AFC Cup will take place on December 6th and by then we will know if Benfica de Macau will be part of the East Asian group or not. That group will include teams from Mongolia, North Korea and Macau. Taiwan and Guam withdrew from last year’s competition, and it is still unclear if they will participate in the 2018 edition.
Meanwhile, there is also some news regarding transfers. Benfica have lost two players, as Marco Meireles and Filipe Aguiar recently signed with Gibraltar United. The Portuguese duo will try their second stint in Gibraltar’s 1st Division. Nonetheless, Ka I signed Brazilian player Baiano, who previously played for PAOK in Greece. He should be a big improvement for the Ka I squad.
Goalkeeper Wa Si Lei, who used to play for the Macau U23 team in the Elite League, signed with Portuguese 1st division team Desportivo das Aves, but the 17-year-old Macau player will be loaned back to the Macau U23 team for next season, since FIFA regulations are very strict regarding youth player transfers to foreign countries. However, as soon as Wa Si Lei turns 18, he will move to Portugal.
The 2018 Macau Elite League will probably start in January, so in the next couple of months we will definitely see more movements in the local transfer market.