Hong Kong international Tan Chun-lok is set to scale new heights in his career with Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League after earning high praise from his world-renowned coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder joined the mainland club in 2018 but spent most of his time with their second tier squad in the Hong Kong Premier League. But with the arrival of the Dutchman in January everything seems poised to change. Tan appeared in most of the preseason matches under Van Bronckhorst, including last week’s 4-0 victory over Hebei China Fortune, before arriving in Dalian and is likely to start for the first time when they take on Shenzhen FC in their opening game of the season on Sunday. Chinese Super League 2020 – will the new format mean a new champion? Dalian is one of the two designated playing zones for the 2020 season which has been delayed since February because of the pandemic. The other one is Suzhou. “I am ready for the match even though I am not too sure if I will start on Sunday,” said Tan ahead of the match. “There have been many chances during the preseason which has boosted my form and confidence. I’ve also had a lot of communication with the coach and know clearly my role in the team.” The Dutchman, who replaced the outgoing Serbian Dragan Stojkovic, will also be leading his first match in China after the season finally kicks off on Saturday. In an interview with mainland media, the former Feyenoord manager said he had been deeply impressed by the progress the Hong Kong player made during the preseason. “He joined the club last season but without too many chances,” said the coach. “I have given the young players many opportunities including Tan and he has been doing a nice job in midfield. I am happy with the way he has contributed to the team and he will be an important player this season.” CSL kicks off on July 25 but no schedule for second stage Tan is one of the most promising players Hong Kong has produced in recent years, twice winning the best young player award in 2016 and 2017. After attending the Brooke House College Football Academy in England through a scholarship, he signed an apprentice contract with Peterborough United in 2009 before moving to Northampton Town two years later. Tan returned to Hong Kong in 2013 after failing to secure a professional contract in England. He started his career with Yokohama in the First Division and joined Wofoo Tai Po in 2016. He spent two seasons with the district club before moving across the border to Guangzhou but mainly featured for R&F in the Hong Kong Premier League. At the conclusion of last season, when R&F finished second behind champions Tai Po in the Premier League, Tan was recalled by the CSL side and played three times as a substitute. If he plays on Sunday, he will become the second Chinese player from Hong Kong to start in the CSL after Ng Wai-chiu, who had stints with Shanghai and Hangzhou in the last decade.