David v Goliath battle for Kitchee
Skipper Lo Kwan-yee has a tough task to mark towering PSG striker Ibrahimovic in friendly
Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee will meet Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a David versus Goliath encounter that will hopefully have a happy ending on Tuesday.
At just 1.68 metres, the diminutive Kitchee right back will have his hands full, marking towering Sweden international Ibrahimovic, who stands at 1.98 metres as the two sides clash in a "Meeting of Champions" international friendly at Hong Kong Stadium.
"I have never come across a striker of his size," said the Hong Kong international. "But fortunately this is only a football game and not combat. In fact, we have been working very hard on our defence under the new coach during the preseason and are confident of containing the visitors well."
Kitchee hope the arrival of the Swedish star striker and his fellow teammates three days before the match could help push ticket sales at the 40,000-seat venue. So far, 15,000 tickets have been sold and organisers are hoping 20,000 tickets will be snapped up for the event to break even.
"Ibrahimovic is a true world-class star and his presence will definitely be a crowd puller," said Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin. "There have not been French teams visiting Hong Kong for a long time and we are looking forward to a wonderful game."
The Ibrahimovic-led visitors wasted no time heading to Mong Kok Stadium for a light workout shortly after their arrival in Hong Kong yesterday. Other key players such as Lucas Digne, Salvatore Sirigu, Thiago Motta, Lucas, Marco Verratti and Gregory van der Wiel also joined the 21-member squad, while Uruguay international Edinson Cavani will join the rest of the team later.
Missing from the squad will be their biggest summer signing, Brazilian international David Luiz, who joined from Chelsea for a reported fee of £50 million (HK$657 million), making him the most expensive defender in the world. His World Cup partner Thiago Silva and two French internationals - Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi - are also absent as they are on holiday after their campaign in Brazil. Ibrahimovic said one of their targets for the coming season would be retaining the Ligue 1 title they won the past two seasons - and winning the Champions League.
"I know everybody has a dream to win the Champions League and I am one of them," he said. "So, we will work hard for it which is not easy but I think we have the potential. We have a strong team and this team is two years old and we have done a lot of things in two years."
The Sweden international said the trip to Hong Kong would be an important part of their preseason build-up. They travel to Beijing for the Trophee des Champions against French Cup winners Guingamp at the Workers' Stadium on Saturday.