Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA)

Guangzhou R&F defend HK$20m budget and use of HK$36m Brazilian striker in Hong Kong Premier League

Subsidiary of the Chinese Super League side are allowed to use foreign players this season after finishing second from bottom last season

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 August, 2017, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2017, 12:05am

Guangzhou R&F have defended their HK$20 million budget for the upcoming season, which will see last season’s top-flight strugglers unleash a Brazilian striker signed for HK$36 million on the Hong Kong Premier League later this month.

R&F are a subsidiary of the Chinese Super League side and played in Hong Kong’s top league last season, but a development team struggled and finished second from bottom, only ahead of Hong Kong Football Club.

This season, however, R&F are set to switch from relegation strugglers to potential title contenders having been allowed to use foreign players in an effort to raise their standards.

And that includes Brazilian striker Bruninho, who joined the Super League side for a reported €4 million (HK$36 million).

“We did not set the rules, the rules are endorsed by the Hong Kong Football Association,” said R&F vice president Huang Shenghua.

“All we want to do is to bring in more quality soccer to Hong Kong, especially after a disastrous season when we finished second from the bottom of the table.

“We are doubling our budget from our first season as we will use foreign players with some Hong Kong naturalised players, but we still employ a number of young players from the mainland and Hong Kong.

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“Our ultimate target is to help develop these young players in the region so that they can contribute to either our Chinese Super league side or the Hong Kong league in future.”

Former Premier League top scorer Giovane da Silva, ex-South China midfielder Marko Perovic as well as naturalised Brazilian duo Manoel da Silva and Roberto Affonso Junior will join Bruninho in the R&F squad, who are set to begin their Premier League campaign against Yuen Long next week.

“We would be happy if we could challenge the top three position and win a cup trophy,” added Huang.

“There are some other front runners in the Hong Kong League and it won’t be easy for a comparatively young side like R&F that include many newcomers.”

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Bruninho, 27, lost his place in R&F’s Super League side and was on loan in Denmark with Midtjylland until the end of May.

“Bruninho’s case is very special,” said Huang. “We signed him for the China Super League, but he has been on loan in Europe.

“We hope he can get back to his best form playing in Hong Kong before we consider putting him back into the Chinese Super League next year.

“The other foreign players and naturalised players are of general Hong Kong league standard.”

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Bruninho failed to score in 11 appearances with Midtjylland, which included just one start, while the striker made seven appearances for R&F during the 2016 domestic season in China without finding the net following his switch from Danish top-flight side Nordsjælland.

“My target is to help the team to achieve its target,” said the Brazilian. “There is no pressure for me, although people may say I am the player with the highest transfer fee ever to play in Hong Kong. I will give my best with any team.”

Eastern executive director Peter Leung Shou-chi last month slammed the decision to allow R&F to field foreign players in the Premier League, claiming they had “doubled the monthly salary of Affonso Junior to HK$130,000 to lure him out and there is no way we can stop that”.

Leung also claimed R&F “may win the championship” with “the quality of players at their disposal”.