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Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA)

Hong Kong set to name Gary White as new football manager: Taiwan boss beats off strong competition for the role

Former Guam manager has a strong track record of improving the nations he has managed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 10:59am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 10:25pm

Former Guam national team coach Gary White is set to return to Hong Kong, not leading a visiting side but as the front-runner for the head coach post following the surprise departure of Kim Pan-gon.

The 44-year-old Englishman has successfully caught the eyes of a four-member Hong Kong Football Association selection panel which is due to make the announcement this week.

However, White’s appointment was questioned by a HKFA board member as public funding is involved in hiring the head coach under the Association’s five-year strategic plan supported by the government.

Indeed, the new head coach contract also states the position will be reviewed when the plan expires in March 2020 before the Home Affairs Bureau considers whether to continue the financial support which will reach HK$25 million a year. It is believed the head coach annual salary package can reach HK$2 million.

Sports Commissioner Yeung Tak-keung said the government would not interfere with the selection process but it must follow proper procedures.

“We know the selection is ongoing and the HKFA has to observe the relevant rules and regulations before hiring the successful candidate,” said Yeung when attending the flag presentation for the Hong Kong delegation to the Indonesia Asian Games on Sunday.

White last appeared in Hong Kong when he led Guam in an international friendly in early 2015 when they lost to the home side 1-0 at Mong Kok Stadium.

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He was preferred over another Englishman, Kevin Bond, who coached Hong Kong Premier League side Pegasus in 2016 before returning to England last year. Bond led Pegasus to a double cup win in the 2016 season.

Other candidates also included Spaniard Josep Gombau, who led domestic powerhouses Kitchee to two championship titles during his tenure here between 2009 to 2013.

If White finally gets the approval, he will be the third Hong Kong manager under the financial support of the government through first Phoenix Project and then the five-year plan.

Australian Ernie Merrick was recruited in 2011 but quit the following year without coaching a single official senior team match after falling out with some of the board members.

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South Korean Kim succeeded Merrick, leading Hong Kong during qualification for the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Asian Cup. Although Hong Kong failed on both occasions, Kim won the praise of many fans with two famous draws against powerful neighbours China. However, he quit before his contract expired when he returned to his home country in December to take up the director of football role with the South Korea Football Association.

White is currently the head coach of Taiwan who appointed him late last year following a brief stint in club soccer when he managed China League One side Shanghai Shenxin in 2016.

He spent his youth career with Southampton, where he was born, before starting his managerial career with British Virgin Islands in 1998.

He has a strong track record of leading the national teams he manages to their highest Fifa ranking.

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