South China feel the strain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 1997, 12:00am

South China, recently back from a training trip to Germany and an Asian Club Championship match in Malaysia, are showing signs of wear and tear.

Coach Wong Man-wai was unhappy with his players' poor form during training at the Hong Kong Sports Institute yesterday.

'They looked tired and didn't do what was expected of them in the practice game,' Wong said.

'They are finding it difficult re-adjusting to the weather in Hong Kong.

'We had training for two weeks in Germany, where it was much cooler.

'Then we went to Kuala Lumpur for the Asian Club Championship match last weekend. The change in the weather and all the travelling is affecting our players.' Wong added they would play to win tomorrow in the return leg of the first round of the Asian Club Championship against Malaysian side Selangor at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The Caroliners held the Malaysians 0-0 in the first leg last weekend.

'We aimed not to concede any goals in the last game. We played defensively and did not attack much,' said Wong.

'We were relying more on counter-attacks but our two midfielders, Dale Tempest and Leslie Santos, were a bit too conservative. That's why we failed to create any real chances.

'But we will definitely change our style [tomorrow] because we must win. We will play more aggressively in the midfield.' Malaysian champions Selangor, who won their country's FA Cup two weeks ago, arrived yesterday and had their training schedule disrupted by the poor condition of the training ground.

They were supposed to train at So Kon Po in the afternoon, but decided to call it off as the ground was flooded and muddy.

Head coach Steve Wicks did not travel with his players as he was in England finalising the transfer of striker Tony Cottee, the former West Ham and Everton player, now at Leicester City.

Wicks was expected to join the team this morning.

Former Welsh international defender Jeff Hopkins said they were capable of winning tomorrow.

'We did not go forward much in the first half of the last game as we were checking our opponents out. After we understood South China better, we played more positively to dominate the second half,' said Hopkins.

'The return game should be a difficult one. We are expecting to see more of South China. But we are capable of beating them.' Meanwhile, Sing Tao have sent an ultimatum to their expatriates that they will be sacked if they fail the controversial physical test, conducted by the Hong Kong Football Association, next Thursday.

Dutch defender Marlon van der Sander and Bosnian striker Anto Grabo were criticised by club president Simon Wan Chi-lok for their poor fitness.

Both players failed to run 3,000 metres in 12 minutes in both of their mock tests.

Wan said they had to pass the actual test or they would be out of a job.

The Tigers are currently training in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and will play a police side in a friendly today.