HK coach Paulic told to show credentials or face clubs' wrath

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 June, 2009, 12:00am

First Division side Kitchee threatened to pull their players out of the Hong Kong Under-23 squad on the eve of the interport clash with Macau in a dispute over Goran Paulic's coaching licence.

Four Kitchee players were named in the 18-member squad, which takes on the Macanese at Mong Kok Stadium today, but the club warned this would be the last time they provided players unless Hong Kong coach Paulic could prove he had the proper Uefa licence. The four players are midfielders Ip Chung-long and Chan Man-fai, and strikers Cheng Lai-hin and Tsang Kam-to.

'The FA board of directors decided at its December meeting that Paulic needed to process his Uefa coaching licence on or before January 31, but as far as I know nothing has been done,' said Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin, who is also a director.

'As time is running short for tomorrow's match, we will still support the Hong Kong team by sending our players, but not for any future match until the coach can meet the requirement by proving his qualifications.'

HKFA deputy general secretary Lam Shing-kui said they had received a confirmation letter from the Croatia Football Association that the Croat is a registered coach with Uefa.

Paulic, who signed a one-year contract with the HKFA last August, said the issue was a joke and preferred not to make any comment. 'This has been going on and on for a long time and I don't want to comment on it,' he said.

Two other clubs - South China and TSW Pegasus - have already refused to send their players over the dispute about Paulic's coaching licence. And with the absence of mainland players from Happy Valley and Citizen, who have returned to China for vacation, Paulic admitted the squad had been weakened.

'Winning the interport against Macau is not our primary target, although we will try to win it to keep the good tradition going,' said the coach. 'We want to use the match to keep the system ... to keep the team's shape so we can prepare ourselves well for the East Asian Games [in December].'

Paulic said he would discuss his vision for the team with the FA after its election of officers next week. FA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak, who is a strong backer of the Croat, is not expected to meet any challenge and will extend his term for another two years.