Ambitious Kitchee out to become a force in Asia
Champions bank on new coach and HK$72 million training facility to strengthen the team
Defending soccer champions Kitchee aim to become a force to be reckoned with in Asia with their new head coach Jose Molina scheduled to arrive in time for the opening of their new training centre later this year.
In announcing their plans for the season, club president Ken Ng Kin said their target would be a regular appearance in the AFC Champions League.
"I am confident we can achieve something under the new coach," said Ng. "I have seen his coaching methods and was very impressed. His arrival will not only help build our first team to play in the highest level in Asia, but also set up a long-term plan through the development of our youth players."
Molina was a former Spain international before switching to coaching in 2009. He played for his country at the 1998 World Cup and two European Championships, and guided La Liga side Villarreal during their 2011-12 campaign. He was the coach of the B team at Getafe FC before his Hong Kong appointment.
Kitchee's HK$72 million training centre in Shek Mun, Sha Tin, meanwhile, will open early next year and its facilities would cater for the needs of a professional team.
"We all know the importance of having our own training ground and this will come true in six months. It will definitely help the coach to better prepare the team," said Ng.
The club will keep six of their foreign players, including newly crowned Footballer of the Year, Fernando Recio.
They will be strengthened with two new foreign players who will soon attain home player status - Helio Concalves and Paulo Carreiro - both from Citizen.
The two Brazilians are due to fulfil the seven-year residency requirement early next year to become home players. Promising midfielder Cheung Kwok-ming also joined from Sun Hei.
There is more good news for Kitchee's friendly match against French champions Paris Saint-Germain on July 29.
Striker Edison Cavani, who played for Uruguay in the World Cup, will be able to join the team for the trip to Hong Kong, along with Italy internationals Thiago Motta, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and midfielder Marco Verratti.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva also has a great chance of coming to the region, with PSG coach Laurent Blanc needing a strong side for their second match in Asia against French Cup champions En Avant de Guingamp.