Leung returns to boost Caroliners
South China have recalled their former team manager Peter Leung Shou-chi in a bid to rediscover their past glories after a couple of disappointing seasons. Leung helped the Caroliners to a number of major trophies in the late 90s, but left the club in 2003 for personal reasons.
'I am happy to be offered the opportunity to work with the players again and hopefully my experience in local soccer can offer some help,' said Leung yesterday. 'I was here [South China] for many seasons and it's nice to come back.'
Leung said he has the blessing of South China Athletic Association (SCAA) chairman Andy Lo Yun-sum and would be in charge of the struggling team's budget and player matters for the new season.
South China had to wait until their final match of the season before they were able to confirm a place in the top flight as they narrowly defeated fellow strugglers Xiangxue Pharmaceutical 2-1 to survive. Their last major trophy dates back to the 2002 season when they won the FA Cup.
Leung said SCAA, the parent body of the team, has already set aside a budget of $3.6 million for the new season and he had to work out any additional resources required to strengthen the squad.
'I have to look for commercial sponsorship if I need to spend more and that depends on how many quality players I will bring in. I think the eventual budget will be around $4 to $5 million,' he said.
With more and more players from China playing in Hong Kong, Leung admitted his primary target for finding recruits would be the China Super League.
'I understand many CSL teams are willing to let their second string players join Hong Kong sides on an on-loan basis. On one hand, these players can certainly get more opportunities to play in Hong Kong and on the other hand, the club can lessen their financial burden of keeping a long list of players,' he said. 'I have already approached teams from Shanghai, Dalian and Tianjing and will travel to China to meet them shortly.'
Leung however hinted that veterans Shum Kwok-pui and Yau Kin-wai, both with South China for more than a decade, would be offered a free transfer.
Meanwhile, Happy Valley convenor Koon Wing-yee confirmed yesterday renewed contracts for 12 players, including Clodoaldo De Oliveira, Barnes Ezeh, Fabio Alcantara, Chiang Sai-ho, Poon Yiu-cheuk, Li Chun-yip. However, John Moore, Marcio Anacleto, Lawrence Akandu and Kwok Yue-hung are likely to be dropped.