SOCCER

Cristiano Cordeiro back in Hong Kong as Eastern coach

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 3:51am

Brazilian Cristiano Cordeiro, one of the best defenders to play in the Hong Kong league in the past decade, is making a return to the city.

The two-time Hong Kong Footballer of the Year, 39, has been appointed assistant coach at newly promoted Eastern, it was announced yesterday.

"He found it hard settling back in Brazil and wants to come back here," said Eastern manager Peter Leung Shou-chi, whose team will have a budget of HK$10 million as they attempt to break the domination of South China and Kitchee. "No one doubts his ability as a player and he has also taken some coaching courses back home with First Division side Internacional.

"Eastern will be using quite a lot of Brazilian players in our first year back in the top flight and it's important to have good communication between the players and the management. We have worked with Cristiano before and are confident he can do a good job."

Eastern coach Lee Kin-wo, a former teammate of Cordeiro, is looking forward to working with the Brazilian again.

"We played together for nine years, five seasons with South China and then four seasons with Sun Hei," Lee said. "I have never seen him play without giving 100 per cent. He is a role model for every player and a natural leader. We are happy to have him with us as a coach."

Cordeiro was a major force for Sun Hei when they made a clean sweep of all the domestic trophies in 2005, the same season he won his second Footballer of the Year title, four years after first clinching the award with South China in 2001.

Sun Hei then represented Hong Kong in the AFC Cup the following season and advanced to the semi-finals.

The Brazilian first joined heavyweights South China in 1998 before moving to Sun Hei in 2003 after the Caroliners chose to adopt an all-Chinese player policy. Cordeiro retired last year after helping Sun Hei clinch the Senior Shield. He has also represented Hong Kong 13 times after changing his nationality in 2006.

Eastern also have signed former Hong Kong team striker Cheng Siu-wai from Kitchee, giving Leung extra fire power.