Hong Kong soccer team 'needs proper training facility' says captain

Captain says building a permanent training facility is crucial to the future of the side

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 2:18am

Captain Chan Wai-ho has renewed the call for a permanent training facility for the Hong Kong soccer team, saying it was crucial to the team's future.

The national team's training venues are currently determined on an ad hoc basis, which means the type and quality of the surfaces they play on vary greatly.

As the team trained at Football Club's synthetic ground in Happy Valley yesterday in preparation for the third match of the 2013 East Asian Cup qualifiers, against Taiwan, Chan said his side had to take great care to protect their knees and ankles on the artificial surface.

"The synthetic turf is not ideal for training as we can get injuries easily," the skipper said. "We have done a lot of training on these grounds because we have limited choices. But I think this problem has to be solved sooner and no later.

"Five years ago, I heard there was to be a brand new training ground built for us very soon in Tseung Kwan O, but so far nothing has materialised. It is very disappointing." Chan, 30, a centre half, who is also captain of the Hong Kong team South China, said he did not expect to see the Tseung Kwan O facility materialise before his retirement.

The chief executive of Hong Kong Football Association, Mark Sutcliffe, said his organisation was working closely with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and hoped some interim measures could be introduced to improve the situation before the opening of the Tseung Kwan O facility, which is expected to be 2015 at the earliest.

Chan, meanwhile, said Monday's fighting 1-0 loss to Australia had lifted his team's form and morale before they take on Taiwan tomorrow.

"We lost, but Australia are a top side in the region," he said. "The pace was high, we had to be focused throughout and we have benefited a lot. It's good preparation for the Taiwan game."

Forward Chan Man-fai, who was substituted in the second half, has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament as he recovers from an ankle injury.