Extension of Project Phoenix is pivotal to Hong Kong soccer's revival
Consistent, long-term government support through Project Phoenix is essential if the revitalisation of the Hong Kong team is to materialise, the side's newly appointed administrative manager, Szeto Man-chun, said.
The former Hong Kong international had been a back-office member of the national team set-up since retiring from club soccer in 2009, before taking up his new position.
The purpose of the post is to strengthen the administrative support for the national team.
"My position is a new set-up under the government's Project Phoenix, which is due to finish next year after three years of operation," he said.
"Of course, I am happy to offer my professional expertise to help the Hong Kong team. We have been making gradual progress recently and in fact are very pleased with the financial support from the government. But if the government stops the project next year, everything will go back to square one and all our efforts will have been in vain."
The 37-year-old will be a key assistant to national team coach Kim Pan-gon as Hong Kong attempt to get back into the world's top 100 as well as gain a place in the 2015 Asian Cup finals in Australia.
"I am on a six-month trial and hope to see steady financial support from the government, so that I can make a full commitment to the job," he said.
The Hong Kong team, meanwhile, continued their preparations for the international friendly against the Philippines at Mong Kok Stadium next week. They were held to a 2-2 draw by the Under-23 side in a training match at Siu Sai Wan yesterday.
"The players were a bit tired after the Kitchee game on Sunday, while the others had an intensive training session on Monday," said Kim. "The result is not too important as we wanted the players to develop a better understanding of each other."
Striker James Ha scored a brace for the Under-23s to put the youngsters ahead twice with Chan Wai-ho and Chan Man-fai providing the equalisers. All four goals came in the first half and Ha returned to the senior side after the break.