International trio spared from South China purge
South China will retain the core of their Chinese stars next season despite the club's promise of a massive player clearout during the summer.
Internationals Kevin Lok Kar-win, Yau Kin-wai and Au Wai-lun will all be kept on by the Caroliners, along with old stagers Ku Kam-fai and Wu Qunli.
Lok, Yau and Au are the only three Chinese Hong Kong internationals playing at the troubled club - and all have contracts to play for the Caroliners next season, sources revealed yesterday.
Former international Shum Kwok-pui is also likely to be retained.
But Leslie Santos and Lee Kin-wo, two players who have had up-and-down seasons this year, are definitely on the way out. Santos, who has played with South China for his whole career, is likely to be snapped up by Golden.
Lee's future is less clear. So far the long-haired winger has not received any offers.
In a further twist, it emerged yesterday that South China had lined up a Brazilian coaching duo to take the helm with the Caroliners next season.
Players revealed yesterday the new coaching staff had overseen training sessions prior to the successful Viceroy Cup campaign.
Outgoing South China captain Dale Tempest, one of the five expatriate players released by the club, was critical of the clearout.
'I think it's a bit unfair the way everything has been handled, especially when you consider that for the last two months of the season we were playing well. After all, we finished second in the league and won the Viceroy Cup,' he said.
'I think they have just seen what [Hong Kong coach] Sebastiao [Araujo] has done and decided to bring in the Brazilian coaches. I think they think 'hey presto' the team will start winning.
'Football is never that simple. For a start, when Sebastiao came in he had the pick of all players in Hong Kong - good, experienced professionals from overseas as well as the best local players,' Tempest said.
Tempest, one of the most popular foreign players to have played in the SAR, said his Hong Kong career was now hanging in the balance.
'To be honest with you, I would say my chances of playing in Hong Kong next season are about 50-50 at the moment. Until someone speaks to me I don't know what I'll be doing,' he said.
'I'm going to go away and have a holiday and we'll see how things are looking when I come back.' South China paymaster Albert Hung Cho-hong was unavailable for comment.