Clubs hail 'fantastic' Mong Kok Stadium
The refurbished Mong Kok Stadium opens today to much fanfare as Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei and Sham Shui Po become the first clubs to play at the much-anticipated, spanking new facility.
Taking two years to build and at a cost of HK$275 million, the famous Mong Kok Stadium finally opens its doors, giving the Hong Kong Football Association a suitable facility for First Division football.
Sun Hei president Chow Man-leung, whose club is one of two teams assigned Mong Kok to use as their home ground, was impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities after a brief practice session on Friday.
Citizen will stage their first home match against Biu Chun Rangers next week. 'The outlook is great, the facilities are fantastic,' said Chow after the session.
'We have played in many venues across Asia when representing Hong Kong in the AFC Cup before but many of those facilities pale in comparison to the renovated Mong Kok ground. I think we can use it to stage top quality international competitions in future.'
The project covers a wide range of upgrading work, including reconstruction of the spectator stands at four sides of the pitch with individual seats for 6,600 people and provision of lightweight covers for the stands on the south and north sides.
There are also the reprovisioning of the kiosks, offices, changing rooms, toilets and other ancillary facilities located under the spectator stands.
The 105 x 67 metre pitch remains the same as that used for many decades, but there is slight concern that the two-year construction work might have damaged the underground drainage system.
'There are worries over the pitch.
There is always wear and tear,' said Vincent Yuen Man-chuen, Hong Kong Football Association general secretary. 'It will definitely take some time if authorities also want to improve the [quality of the] pitch but this is not what the clubs want as the Mong Kok ground has been very popular with fans.
'The clubs wanted the renovation work to be done as quickly as possible so they can use the venue as soon as possible. Already the number of matches at Mong Kok has been reduced from over 100 a season when it was in full use before the renovation to around 40 matches a season and the pitch should be in better conditions with reduced usage. 'The pitch now looks great from the outside because it hasn't been used for more than two years and we won't know how good it will be after heavy use.'
Manager of the stadium Yuen Hing-keung said pitch conditions at the ground had been satisfactory over the years and that it shouldn't be a problem in future.
Meanwhile, a late goal by striker Roberto Losado gave Kitchee a 1-0 victory over home team Tuen Mun in the BMA First Division yesterday.
Tuen Mun were reduced to 10 men when Chan Hin-kwong was sent off in the 66th minute.
Losado sealed victory with six minutes remaining. Elsewhere, South China thrashed Biu Chun Rangers 3-0 at Hong Kong Stadium. All three goals came in the second half through Lee Wai-lim, Ng Wai-chiu and Giovane da Silva.