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Hong Kong Premier League

Eastern boss Szeto Man-Chun walks after Kitchee thrashing as Lee Kin-wo steps up for crucial AFC Champions League tie

Humiliating 8-1 defeat to league leaders comes before make or break tie against Vietnamese champions Thanh Hoa at Mong Kok on Tuesday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 8:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 11:06pm

Eastern coach Szeto Man-chun has resigned from the Hong Kong Premier League heavyweights after taking the blame for a series of poor performances by the 2016 champions.

He has been replaced by his assistant Lee Kin-wo.

The former Hong Kong international was removed on Friday, a day after they were thrashed by league leaders Kitchee 8-1 at Mong Kok Stadium. Diego Forlan, playing his second game in Hong Kong, started the game and contributed one assist as the defending champions continued their domination in domestic competition.

Lee, the former Hong Kong captain, was immediately announced as the new boss ahead ofEastern’s crucial AFC Champions League qualifying match.

The Hong Kong side will host Thanh Hoa of Vietnam at Mong Kok on Tuesday and a victory will give them the opportunity to take on Suwon Bluewings in South Korea on January 30 for a place in the group stage.

In a statement, the club said, “Head coach Sezto Man-chun has submitted his resignation which has been accepted by the management. He will remain as the administration manager of the club. His position will be taken up by assistant head coach Lee Kin-wo with immediate effect.”

A former Eastern player, Lee was a key member of the club during the most successful periodin the club’s history in the early 1990s, clinching the league championship three times in a row from the 1992-93 season and winning the FA Cup and Senior Shield in 1993 and 1994.

“Lee holds the AFC A coaching license and his ability is well recognised. The coaching team will give their best support to Lee to help the club get back to the right track”, the statement continued.

Szeto’s position was under serious threat when the season began as Eastern lost their opening five matches.

They only r regained confidence with victory over Pegasus in the Senior Shield quarter-finals, but a humiliating defeat by Kitchee ended the brief stint of Szeto, who took over the hot seat from Chan Yuen-ting in May 2017, after she resigned.

Kitchee thrash Eastern as Diego Forlan starts his first game in Hong Kong; Uruguayan fails to get on the scoresheet

Chan, winner of the AFC women’s coach of the year in 2016, guided Eastern to their first-ever AFC Champions League campaign last season before quitting citing stress. She remains on the coaching staff at the club.

The Premier League runners-up last season remain in fifth place in the table but are in the Shield final where they will meet Yuen Long later this month for the trophy.