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Friday, September 14, 2018, 18:19
Super typhoon expected to disrupt local football league
By Tobias Zuser
Friday, September 14, 2018, 18:19 By Tobias Zuser

The HKFA appointed Gary White as new head coach. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

With super typhoon Mangkhut edging closer to the city, it seems likely that some of the Hong Kong Premier League games scheduled for Sunday, 16 September, could be rescheduled. The Football Association will observe the weather situation closely, and matches would be automatically postponed once signal no. 8 or above have been hoisted. For now, however, all the fixtures are still lined up, and disruptions for Friday and Saturday are rather unlikely. 

While most local clubs enjoyed a brief holiday due to the international FIFA break last weekend, the Hong Kong Football Association used this opportunity to finally announce the appointment of a new head coach: Gary White is now in charge of both the senior and U23 representative team of the Hong Kong SAR. Born in Southampton, England, White has steadily increased his reputation as a talented manager by helping various teams to boost their FIFA rankings. He particularly earned a lot of respect as head coach of Guam, which was followed by a short stint at Shanghai Shenxin in China League One. On his first day in the new job, White expressed confidence that he is the right person: “I have been working in East Asia over the past few years, thus I know Hong Kong is a difficult side to face and has a lot of potential. I will try to utilize my past experiences and lead Hong Kong to a new level.”

Although Gary White will make his first team-pick only in one month from now, it is generally expected that he could increase the role of younger players in the team, particularly when compared to his predecessor Kim Pan-gon. The first test will be a friendly game against Thailand on 11 October, followed by an away game in Indonesia. 

Meanwhile, White will probably watch as many Hong Kong Premier League games as possible and has plenty of options to choose from in the coming days:

DREAMS v SOUTHERN, Premier League, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Sept 14, 8:00 pm

On Friday night, Dreams will kick off the second week against Southern District. The Aberdeeners just celebrated a perfect start into the new season after beating underdogs Hoi King 3-1 on Saturday, 8 September. Serbian striker Nikola Komazec, who has become a fan favourite during his time at South China, scored in his debut for the new club and altogether Ricky Cheng’s side looked much better organized than last year. Dreams, who lost their opening game 1-4 to Pegasus, will be busy to keep the strong Southern attack in check, while hoping that Diego Higino, Jordan Lam and Lam Hin-ting could cause some damage up front as well. 

Nikola Komazec scored in his debut for Southern. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

TAI PO v PEGASUS, Premier League, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Sept 15, 2:30 pm

A few months ago, Tai Po beat Pegasus in the last round of the season to claim the runners-up position in the league. The Flying Horsemen should therefore be well motivated to take revenge, when they return to the same venue on Saturday. While Pegasus showed a solid performance in the first game, beating Dreams 4-1 with goals from Joao Emir, Travis Major and Shu Sasaki, Tai Po were lucky to get away with one point in the 4-4 opener against Yuen Long. Without Tan Chun-lok and Sean Tse, the Greens’ defense looked a bit chaotic and it is yet to see if Tai Po can still compete for the upper ranks of the table this year. Pegasus’ rediscovered road to success might not only be related to new coach Pedro Garcia, but also a change in management, where Steven Lo has returned to the role of club president. 

LEE MAN v YUEN LONG, Premier League, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Sept 15, 5:30 pm

This match promises an interesting constellation, as many of the Lee Man players have previously represented Yuen Long. Last year, Tsang Chiu-tat made history by winning the Senior Shield trophy with the Tangerines, and now he aims to prove himself as assistant coach of Chan Hiu-ming. Although the Bees lost their first game to Kitchee while donning their new yellow-black kits, they had their moments in which they threatened the reigning champions. Especially new signings Crescendo van Berkel and Alexandre Talento could have a great season ahead of them. The match against Yuen Long should be a first indicator where Lee Man are heading. 

KITCHEE v R&F, Premier League, Mong Kok Stadium, Sept 16, 2:30 pm

Provided the typhoon will allow this game to happen, Kitchee and R&F will meet each other in what is surely the match of the week. The team from Guangzhou boosted their squad over the summer, and even hired former Kitchee celebrities Andreas Lam Zhi-gin and Lo Kwan-yee. However, luck was not on their side in the first game, when they still suffered a 2-3 defeat against Eastern, with the decisive goal only being scored during added time. Before that, Lo had been sent off and R&F were down to ten men, which also infuriated neo-coach Yeung Ching-kwong, who was asked to watch the rest of the game from the stands. If the guests could force Kitchee to drop points in this encounter, this could be well the start of a more competitive title race this season. 

Eastern beat R&F 3-2 after scoring the decisive goal during injury time. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

EASTERN v HOI KING, Premier League, Hong Kong Stadium, Sept 16, 5:30 pm

Last but not least, Eastern might still take on Hoi King on Sunday afternoon if the weather conditions allow. The Blues looked much fresher than last season, and the return of Chan Yuen-ting as head coach has probably played an important role in this. Although Brazilian forward Everton Camargo missed a penalty in his first match, he still looked like a player that could frustrate a lot of defenders this season, and Hoi King would be well advised to keep him under control. The newcomers seem to rely mainly on veterans such as Fu Dragon and Chris Annan, whose experience will be crucial to guide the young and inexperienced team into difficult games, just like this one. 

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