New boy wants taste of pal Iniesta's success
Kitchee's new striker, Spaniard Jonathan Carril, is hoping he can convert some of his country's glory at the European Championship into success for himself in this fresh stage of his career.
The 28-year-old Carril was a teammate of Andres Iniesta, Uefa Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament, at the Barcelona youth academy.
Carril arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon. Naturally, he made sure he was in front of a television set just hours later to watch his country's overwhelming 4-0 victory over Italy in the final in Kiev, Ukraine.
'I played with Iniesta for three years from when I was 15 years old and as far as I am concerned, he is the best player in the world,' said Carril, who had his first practice with Kitchee yesterday in stifling heat. 'Lionel Messi is spectacular because he scores goals, but to me Iniesta is the better player.'
Carril and his five countrymen at Kitchee were overjoyed by the Spain result. 'We are all very proud of our country. Maybe the 4-0 result is a bit harsh on Italy, but Spain were much better in the final and deserved the win,' he said. 'I know Kitchee are a very successful team and hopefully our Spanish legion can help them win more honours.'
The 1.88-metre striker joined from Segunda Division B (Spanish third division) side Palencia after scoring eight goals for them last season. Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin said they had targeted Carril early this year but the Spanish club refused to let the player go in mid-season.
'His arrival gives us more options in attack as Carril is a striker with good headers and a strong fighting spirit,' said Ng. 'He has played with some of our Spanish players before and should have little difficulty blending in.'
With a season budget of HK$17 million (of which one-third will go to their youth development programmes), Ng said their biggest target would be a third league title in a row. 'South China remain our biggest hurdle if we want to be the champions again,' he said. 'I am sure they will try their best to win the title back from us in the new season and at the moment it looks like being a two-horse race.'
With a squad of 30 players following the return of Cheng Siu-wai after spending one season with Sun Hei, and Tsang Chi-hau, who was on loan to Sapling, Kitchee might loan some of the squad to other clubs.