Hong Kong Premier League 2015-16

Abraham Garcia quits as Kitchee coach after eight months in charge

Spaniard and the club agree mutual parting of ways with the defending champions second in the Hong Kong Premier League

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 March, 2016, 7:36pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 March, 2016, 7:36pm

Unsettled coach Abraham Garcia quit heavyweights Kitchee on Saturday after eight months with the two-time defending league champions, who are struggling to retain the title.

The Spaniard, a mentor of the young Fernando Torres during the world-class player’s early days in Atlético Madrid, was seen as the man to take Kitchee even higher when he replaced former Spanish international Jose Molina last summer.

But the club announced prior to their Premier League match against Yuen Long on Saturday that the two parties had parted ways. Kitchee said they accepted a proposal from Garcia to end the contract prematurely.

We at Kitchee have already set up a strong foundation of our playing style and there is no need to make any big change
Chu Chi-kwong, Kitchee interim coach

The club’s director of soccer, Chu Chi-kwong, immediately took over coaching duties as an interim measure. They were able to overcome the district team 1-0 before flying to Singapore for the AFC Cup group F clash against Balestier Khalsa on Tuesday.

Chu has stepped into this role before. In 2013 when the then coach Alex Gomez, also from Spain, quit only after five months in charge, Chu was appointed caretaker coach and the former Hong Kong international steered the club to the championship.

“We at Kitchee have already set up a strong foundation of our playing style and there is no need to make any big change,” said Chu. “Many of the key players have been with us for a long time and are very familiar with me. There won’t be any problem in adapting from either side.”

With only three matches left, Kitchee are second in the standings with 28 points, one behind Eastern, who defeated BC Rangers 4-0 on Saturday. The leaders still have two games in hand.

Garcia’s management style had been questioned by players and fans, especially when he decided to drop striker Juan Belencoso as a foreign player for the AFC Cup. Belencoso won the top scorer award for the regional cup tournament with 11 goals in 2014.

Another Hong Kong AFC Cup representative, South China, also made personnel changes, with their Brazilian fitness coach Marcelo sent home and Ricardo Rambo joining from Rangers.