Asian Games soccer berth draws a fitter and stronger Remi Dujardin back to Hong Kong – ‘my body condition has improved a lot’
The 21-year-old has been developing while studying in New York state and is confident of making Kenneth Kwok’s side
Remi Dujardin hopes the physical and mental progress he has made while studying and playing soccer in the United States will serve him well in his bid to represent Hong Kong at the Asian Games in Indonesia this summer.
The 21-year-old and three others studying overseas – Matthew Orr Wing-Kai, Ngan Cheuk-pan and Chan Pak-hei – are part of a 40-member preliminary squad that began their preparation at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground on Tuesday.
The squad will be cut down to 20 at the end of the month, with the hopefuls having eight sessions to prove their worth.
French International School alum Dujardin is on a soccer scholarship at St Bonaventure University in New York state, which plays in the NCAA division one. In 2017, he appeared in 19 games including 17 starts and scored the winning goal in a 3-2 win over Robert Morris University.
“The coach asked me if I would come back for the Asian Games squad and fortunately the timing fits my schedule as it is now off season in the States,” said the youngster, who speaks fluent Cantonese. “There is always a special feeling of representing Hong Kong as this is where I was born.”
Dujardin said his overseas exposure has made him a stronger player and he was confident of making the final squad.
“My body condition has improved a lot as there has been a lot of fitness training in the States,” he said.
“Also, I played for Hong Kong in last year’s Asian under-23 qualifiers in Pyongyang, where we drew against the hosts 1-1 in a tough atmosphere and that kind of experience really helps.”
Dujardin, who is studying marketing and will graduate in December, said he was considering his future after school.
“I am very open. It all depends on the offer. It may not be the MLS [Major League Soccer], Hong Kong and even China,” he said.
Hong Kong coach Kenneth Kwok Ka-lok paid high tribute to his charge, saying he has followed Dujardin since his youth team days with Pegasus.
“He is very fit after playing in the United States as the games there are high in intensity, especially in the NCAA division one,” Kwok said.
“He is not only a strong midfielder. When I knew him as a young player, he is very skilful. We have some expectations on him.”
With Tan Chun-lok, the only player who played for Hong Kong in the Incheon Games four years ago, unlikely to be available because of a pending move to China Super League side Guangzhou R&F this summer, Dugardin was an ideal choice in midfield, the coach said.