South China land three from South America
Caroliners strengthen under new boss Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung
South China have secured three South American players as they prepare for Hong Kong soccer's inaugural Premier League season under new boss Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung.
The businessman revealed on Sunday that midfielders Alejandro Frezzotti and David Matute, as well as goalkeeper Cristian Mora, would join on loan from Ecuadorian Premier League side Deportivo Cuenca. They were identified during a recent scouting trip to the South American nation led by head coach Yeung Ching-kwong.
Mora, 34, is a former national team goalkeeper, having represented Ecuador 20 times from 2005 to 2007, while 30-year-old Argentine Frezzotti impressed Hong Kong fans when a joint Citizen and Cuenca side lifted the Lunar New Year Cup this year.
Frezzotti is expected to become one of the highest-paid players in Hong Kong, with a monthly salary of more than US$15,000.
"It was very difficult to persuade Cuenca to release their players because they are in the middle of their domestic season and both Frezzotti and Mora are their key players, having played all their league matches so far," said Cheung.
With Japanese forward Yuto Nakamura joining from Citizen, South China still have room for two more to fill their foreign player quota, which can reach a maximum of six. "We are still working hard to secure more expatriates," said Cheung.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Football Association is studying the applications of the nine teams that want to join the Premier League. An independent licensing body will meet today, then make recommendations.
"I can't say how many teams will get the licence," said HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe yesterday. "If there are nine teams, they will play in a double round robin system, as well as the three cup competitions, so there will be at least 21 matches for each team next season."
Sutcliffe also disclosed the Hong Kong Jockey Club would be title sponsor for the Community Shield charity match between Kitchee and South China as the curtain raiser for the new season.