Lee in line to take over as Hong Kong coach

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am

Veteran Hong Kong international Lee Kin-wo is likely to be appointed Hong Kong coach for next month's East Asian Championships preliminaries.

Lee's appointment should end months of speculation following the departure of Lai Sun-cheung, who quit in November after failing to take Hong Kong into this summer's Asian Cup finals. An announcement is expected before the end of the week as soon as the Hong Kong Football Association board meets.

Lee, who is still playing First Division football at the age of 39, is with his club Xiangxue Sun Hei in the Maldives for an AFC Cup group match against Victory FC and was not available for comment yesterday.

However, it is believed that Lee (pictured) is the clear front-runner on the recommendation of the HKFA chairman Martin Hong Po-kui.

The FA chief has said repeatedly that the job would be offered to a home-grown talent, regardless of his senior coaching experience.

Although Lee has never coached the Hong Kong team before, he started his coaching career with junior sides a couple of years ago and is currently coach of the Hong Kong under-21 side.

Two other candidates have also been considered - Lo Kai-wah of Happy Valley and Ricky Cheng Siu-chung of Kitchee - but both prefer to focus on their club commitments.

Hong Kong will meet Taiwan and Guam in group B of the preliminaries, in Macau on June 17-24. The SAR side are then expected to meet North Korea, favourites in group A, for the only remaining place at next year's finals. Japan, South Korea and hosts China are the seeded teams for the finals in Chongqing next February.

Lee began his career with Eastern in 1985 and has won more than 20 trophies with clubs including Eastern, South China and Sun Hei. He also played for Lai Sun Double Flower. He was named Player of the Year in 1993, 1994 and 2003. At international level, he first represented Hong Kong when he was 17 and played his last match in the SAR's colours against Liverpool in 2003.

Other than his trademark long hair, he is best remembered for his involvement in an interport tournament against Macau in 2000 when he hit the referee with the ball and was later suspended for one year.