First test for South China in AFC Champions League play-offs
Singapore club is the first test for Hong Kong giants
With new towering strikers Andrew Barisic and Sasa Kajkut having blended well with the rest of the team, South China will take a confident first step forward in their search to turn a new page in the history of the famed club as well as Hong Kong soccer – a place in the AFC Champions League.
The Caroliners will take on Tampines Rovers of Singapore on Sunday in the Lion City in the first of three hurdles they need to get past to become the first local club to play in the region’s top club championship.
“Both our new players have fitted in well with the rest of the club and everything is in place,” said South China coach Andy Cheung Po-chun. “We arrived in Singapore a few days earlier to get acclimatised to the weather as well as playing on this artificial surface. We trained here last night and it was a good turnout and we are ready now.”
In a bid to boost their firepower, South China recruited Australian Barisic and Bosnia’s Kajkut early last month. They have already shown a glimpse of their potential, each scoring a goal in the 2-1 win over Sun Pegasus in the Canbo Senior Shield final. Cheung will be hoping for more from the strike duo.
“They have played about three games so far. It would have been nice to have more time with them but I think they have blended well with the rest of the team and we are ready,” Cheung said.
If South China defeat Tampines Rovers in the first round of the play-offs, they will then meet Chonburi of Thailand in the next round. Beat the Thais and the Caroliners will face China Super League side Beijing Guoan in their last hurdle before reaching the main draw of Asia’s top-tier club competition.
“As always, it will be step-by-step. I’m not looking any further than the game against Rovers. But I know how important it will be to qualify for the Asian Champions League, not only for South China but for Hong Kong football,” Cheung added.