Sham Shui Po ready for top league
The new season of First Division League soccer competition is only three weeks away, and the players from the Sham Shui Po Sports Association are ready for the challenge. Playing in the First Division is new to Sham Shui Po, who were promoted after their first-place finish in the Second Division last season.
The team have stayed busy. They played friendly matches as a warm-up for the season. They lost 4-1 to South China in the first friendly and drew 2-2 with Fourway Rangers.
Sham Shui Po, who played against the Hong Kong Under-18s last Friday, has shown improvement in both organisation and speed. They were unstoppable on the pitch at Shek Kip Mei Park and beat the junior national team 6-1.
Lee Chi-kin, the Sham Shui Po coach, was impressed by the team's overall performance, but he thought his players could have done better.
'Our players scored five goals in the first half, but they were slacking a bit at the end of the match. This gave the opponents a chance to score. That is unacceptable, especially as the team will face tough competition in the coming months,' Lee says. 'Friendly matches are a way for the players to learn to cope with the speed and atmosphere of the upcoming First Division matches. The results are not important, but in the future, I don't want to see them allow goals because of careless mistakes.'
The team have signed some overseas players to strengthen their line-up, but Coach Lee insisted the local young players will still be the heart of the squad.
'We have fought together for years to get promoted from the Third to the First Division. I hope our team will be like a big family sharing the same goal,' the coach says. 'Our strategy will remain the same, and the foreign players will need to adapt.'
Young Post talked to two student players from Sham Shui Po after the friendly match against the Hong Kong U-18 team: Form Seven student Ronald Fung Hing-wa and Year Three student Lam Ngai-tong.
Ronald helped his school, La Salle College, win the A Grade Inter-School Football Competition last year, but this year his presence in the competition is in doubt.
'There will be clashes between the Inter-School and First Division league matches. I must put the interests of my club as my top priority, so I may not be able to play for my school this year. But I will register for the Inter-School and see if I have the time to play,' said the defender.
His teammate, midfielder Ngai-tong from the Hong Kong Institute of Education, has to complete his final year and an internship. But the future physical education teacher is excited despite facing a tight schedule.
'I will try my best to attend all the training sessions. I know our fans have great expectations of us, but I think this won't become a burden,' says the 21-year-old student.
'We have our own targets, and we should be able to convert our pressure into motivation.'