Debut of midfielder Andy Naegelein for Hong Kong soccer side up in the air
Midfielder has yet to be released to join HK squad for an Asian Cup qualifier
Andy Naegelein comes with a big reputation as an impressive defensive midfielder but Hong Kong head coach Kim Pan-gon lives by the mantra of "seeing is believing".
He says he would have to watch the former Nuremberg youth player in action before deciding if he should make his Hong Kong debut against United Arab Emirates in an Asian Cup qualifier next Tuesday.
"Unfortunately Andy has still not been released by his club in China and I will need to see him play first to see if he is good enough," said Kim after national squad training yesterday. "If he can convince me in a practice game later this week, I will pick him. But if I don't see him it will be difficult for me to make a decision."
Naegelein, 32, was born in Hong Kong to a German father and a Chinese mother. At the age of six, he started playing for FC Nuremberg's youth teams and stayed with them for nine years before switching to different clubs. He began his professional career at the age of 19 in the lower German divisions. In 2009 he joined Cypriot First Division team APEP Pitsilia before moving on to play for Shenzhen Ruby in the 2010 China Super League.
Injury resulted in Naegelein being sidelined by Shenzhen. Last year he signed with Hong Kong club Rangers but his bad luck with injuries continued when he broke his leg in a league game against Pegasus. Returning from a lengthy three-month break, Naegelein signed with mainland League One side Guizhou Zhiceng, who have so far ignored Kim's pleas to release him.
"We have worked hard to try to get him released as soon as possible but so far we have had no luck. I hope he can join the rest of the squad soon, for it is a rare opportunity that I get the entire squad together for a week before a big game," said Kim.
Only 16 of the 23-man Hong Kong squad got together yesterday for their first training session at Hong Kong Football Club. They will have one more training session today before leaving tomorrow for Huangzhou for a friendly against Guangzhou R&F on Friday - the only chance for Naegelein to impress Kim.
"Andy is one of three new players in the squad and it would be good for everyone if he can join us soon," Kim said.
The other two newcomers are South China goalkeeper Zhang Chun-hui and Sunray Cave midfielder Leung Chun-pong.