Fear of 'potato field' for new league
Warning on overuse of Mong Kok pitch with closure of Hong Kong Stadium
Ambitious Sun Pegasus fear Mong Kok Stadium will be reduced to a "potato field" when more pressure is put on it after the Hong Kong Stadium closes for renovation.
The Premier League side, along with champions Kitchee, will be based at the 6,600-seat Mong Kok facility for the new professional league to kick off in September, but Pegasus team director Chan Chi-hong is already concerned about the pitch.
"We were told this week Hong Kong Stadium will be closed from March 2015 and some of the matches may have to move to our home ground at Mong Kok," said Chan during their first practice session on Wednesday.
"We have already seen how poor the pitch at Mong Kok was approaching the end of last season and if more matches are to be held there in the new season, it will create a big problem.
"We should not overuse it. The home-team interest must be well taken care of as we don't want to play on a potato field."
While South China will have to finish all their home matches at Hong Kong Stadium before March, their cup fixtures in the second half of the season as well as the regional AFC Cup matches are likely to be moved to the Mong Kok ground due to its popularity among the fans.
Other teams will consider the venue for their cup competitions and any international matches are likely to be played there.
Although the Mong Kok facility underwent a major facelift before reopening in 2011, the turf was not touched during the two-year renovation.
Pegasus have a HK$20 million budget to challenge for all titles with an improved squad of 11 new players, including their latest signing, Romanian Petrisor Voinea, who will join from Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam.
The 24-year-old striker was voted MVP when playing for another Vietnamese side, Vissai Ninh Binh, during their 3-1 win over South China in the AFC Cup group stages early this year. Voinea will form a strong attack up front with former Bosnia international Admir Rascic, who scored 12 goals for Pegasus last season.
Other notable new faces include Hong Kong internationals Lee Hong-lim, Sham Kwok-keung and Festus Baise. Goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson has joined from A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers.
"We have a strong squad and even our best player of last season, Ju Yingzhi, may find it difficult to keep his position in midfield due to keen internal competition," said Chan. "We suffered some ups and downs last season. In the end we finished empty-handed, but we will improve with the depth of the squad."