Hong Kong Premier League

Unfinished business: coach Leung Chi-wing seeks redemption with Hong Kong Premier League newcomers Guangzhou R&F

The Chinese Super League side kick off their maiden top-flight campaign against Eastern at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 7:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 10:44pm

Assistant coach Leung Chi-wing has unfinished business as newcomers Guangzhou R&F kick off their BOC Life Premier League campaign against defending champions Eastern Long Lions at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday.

Leung coached Dreams Metro Gallery in the Hong Kong top-flight last season in his first managerial role after retiring from Eastern.

But the 38-year-old lost his job after they decided not to apply for club license for this season.

“We finished sixth in the league and it was an encouraging result considering our financial health,” said former Hong Kong international Leung, who won league titles with South China and Sun Hei during his playings career.

“But the reality was the club lacked the financial backing and could not survive.

“Just when I was wondering if I could continue with my coaching career, in came Guangzhou R&F, a club which no one will cast a doubt on their financial strength, and more importantly, their commitment in soccer.”

The Chinese Super League club, who have long terms ambitions of setting up a team permanently in Hong Kong, were finally granted permission to become the 11th team in the Premier League for the new season, which started last month.

But as part of the agreement made with he Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA), the Guangzhou-based side must sign at least eight Hong Kong players, with a minimum of three on the pitch at any time.

The club, who will field a team made up of youth and reserve players, is officially listed by the HKFA as R&F (Hong Kong), which translates as rich and forces.

“The club has a professional set-up backed up by high quality training facilities and technical support,” said Leung, who will work under current R&F coach and former first team captain Li Zhihai.

“Our target is a top sixth position in our debut season, but I am confident we can exceed the expectation.

“Although we are not helped by foreign players like the other teams, the quality of the mainland players will surprise you, and coupled with the arrival of some promising young lads from Hong Kong, we certainly can pull off a few surprises.”

Hong Kong internationals Chuck Yiu-kwok and Leung Ka-hai, who played for Hong Kong at the 2014 Asian Games, are the two most notable signings.

Champions Eastern, meanwhile, will try to improve on their opening game when they managed a narrow 1-0 victory over newly promoted Wofoo Tai Po.

Newly arrived Spanish striker Manuel Bleda Rodriguez is ready for his Hong Kong debut, according to coach Chan Yuen-ting.