Chan Siu-ki keen to stay in lucrative Chinese league
Hong Kong international Chan Siu-ki is aiming to continue his career in the Chinese league, believing he has become a better player after spending one and-a-half seasons on the mainland.
Chan's contract with Chinese First Division side Sunray Cave Guangdong ended after the season finale on Sunday, but the forward is eager to extend his career across the border rather than return to Hong Kong.
"I have learned a lot over the past one and-a-half seasons with Guangdong and want to continue my future there," said the 28-year-old, who was at a training session on Thursday with three other Hong Kong team players who ply their trade on the mainland - Chan's Guangdong teammate Leung Chun-pong, Wisdom Agbo of Yiteng Harbin and Andy Naegelein of Zhicheng Guizhou.
Striker Godfred Karikari, who plays for Henan Construction, was due to return on Friday for another practice session.
"The standard of Chinese soccer is higher than in Hong Kong and they provide a better environment for both competition and training," added Chan, who scored eight goals for his team last season.
Despite an impressive strike rate, Guangdong fell just short of winning promotion to the top-tier Super League after losing their final match of the season, 1-0 to relegated Chongqing. Guangdong finished third in the standings, with only the top two sides, Karikari's Henan and Agbo's Harbin, being promoted to the Super League.
"That was a huge disappointment," said Chan. "If we had won promotion to the top flight, each player would have got a bonus of HK$250,000 but we let it slip away on the final day of the season."
Money is one of the reasons Chan wants to continue playing on the mainland. "The basic pay on the mainland is higher and bonuses are more attractive too," said Chan, a former star striker with Hong Kong champions South China. "For every victory, players are awarded a bonus of at least HK$10,000, We are professional players so, yes, money is important."
For now, though, Chan is focused on helping Hong Kong qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup. Hong Kong will play the United Arab Emirates away on November 15 before hosting Uzbekistan on November 19. They then met Vietnam early next year in their final group game.
"It's vital we take points from UAE and Uzbekistan," Chan said.