Star Kitchee midfielder Krisztian Vadocz favourite to be named Hong Kong Footballer of the Year
As voting for the prestigious award is launched on Friday, Pegasus player Lee Wai-lim’s sentencing for match-fixing is postponed until May 4
Former Hungary international Krisztian Vadocz held early favouritism in the race to be crowned Hong Kong Footballer of the Year as voting for the award got underway on Friday.
The 32 year-old midfielder, who is in his second season with Kitchee, played a key role in his side lifting back-to-back Premier League titles with two rounds remaining and was a vital cog in their AFC Champions League campaign.
Kitchee became the first team from Hong Kong to win a match in the regional top tier club competition when they defeated Kashiwa Reysol of Japan in the group stage, but ultimately failed to reach the knockout round.
Even Vadocz’s teammate Tong Kin-man, also one of the candidates, threw his support behind the powerful midfielder despite netting 10 goals of his own this season.
“He is a role model,” said Hong Kong international Tong, who represented his club at a media function to launch the award on Friday.
“He helps the team to attack with the power to score goals and is also a solid defender in midfield. Most importantly, he has the ability to lead the team and deserves the honour.”
A total of 11 players (one goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers) will be selected by a combined ballot made up of a selection panel and media and public voting.
The one with the highest number of votes among these 11 will be crowned the Footballer of the Year at the prize presentation on May 17.
Each club have already submitted their nominees for the top gong, as well as the season’s other awards, which include young players of year (two winners), coach of the year and players’ favourite, which is voted on by the players.
Former Uruguayan World Cup representative Diego Forlan, who joined Kitchee early this year, was not nominated by the club.
“There are two nominees for strikers and we prefer Sandro and Lucas da Silva who have both scored more goals than Forlan and have played for the team from the beginning of the season,” said a club spokesman.
Meanwhile, Football Association chairman Brain Leung Hung-tak said he was not in the position to comment on the four Pegasus players who were alleged to have been involved in match fixing but were acquitted on Thursday.
“This was the decision of the court,” said Leung. “We have already done a lot of education programmes on match fixing with the ICAC and all players were required to sign a paper of not engaging in any form of match fixing before the season began.
“They were also told the results would be very serious, not only being put in jail if they were found guilty but also that their soccer career will be over.”
Former Footballer of the Year Lee Wai-lim, the only Pegasus player who pleaded guilty in the case, has been in custody since September but is likely to be released soon after the District Court postponed sentencing on Friday to May 4, pending a report on the player’s suitability for community service.
The court made it clear that the sentencing principles for such cases usually have to carry a deterrent effect, but it also noted that the former Pegasus player had been in custody for almost six months.