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Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA)

New boss Gary White ‘can’t keep everyone happy’ after ringing the changes as Hong Kong prepares for two international friendlies

Englishman faces media at first squad selection announcement

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 3:32pm

New Hong Kong coach Gary White insisted he will run the national team his own way when he faced reporters at the announcement of his first squad on Thursday.

He also said he is confident of having hot prospect Dai Wai-tsun with the squad for his first get-together next week.

The Englishman, who arrived in Hong Kong earlier this month, made it clear his job is not to please everyone after revealing his first squad of 33 players.

The preliminary squad will be reduced to 23 next week when Hong Kong start their preparation for two international friendlies in October as part of the build-up for the East Asian Cup second round the following month.

White picked a number of naturalised players in his initial squad, including 35-year-old former footballer of the year Giovane da Silva, who only obtained his Hong Kong citizenship last week, but other well known players such as full back Jack Sealy were left out.

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“I can’t keep everyone happy [with the selection]. If I keep everyone happy, I am doing nothing and I am not making any changes,” said White, who was at a media conference for Saturday’s Community Cup. “The selection criteria is very simple. You can break it down technically, tactically, mentally, physically but at the end of the day, it’s about picking the players you think can win a game.

“I don’t really look at if they are born here or they are naturalised foreigners. That’s not my position. My position is to pick the best team to compete at the highest level for the city.”

Dai, who joined Oxford United this summer, is named in the preliminary squad, but there is no obligation for his club to release the player as Fifa’s international selection release rules will not apply to the third-tier club.

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“I don’t think it will be good for the club not to [release the player] for his future and for his development,” White said. “When you get a player selected in the national team, you should celebrate this as I expect the other side to do.

“This will help Dai in the club to become a more respected player. More people will know about him and the fans will know that Oxford United have a future international player on their books. My old clubs in England ... they think the experience the player will get from being with us, you cannot replicate in England. It’s good for the player.”

White said they were monitoring the players’ situations well, including Dai and others who play in different leagues.

“Dai is recovering from a knee injury and we have all the details on his injury. He is getting back to training and can start running.

“We communicate constantly with the clubs ... we know exactly what the players are doing in training, we know how many minutes they are playing in the games. Every person in the 33-member squad we have a good handle on them.”

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Elsewhere, Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee will meet Wofoo Tai Po in the Jockey Club Community Cup at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday. The winner will get a cash prize of HK$250,000 with HK$100,000 for the runner-up.

HK$100,000 and HK$50,000 plus 20 per cent of the net proceeds of the match will be donated to charity organisations nominated by the two teams. In addition, HK$300,000 will be shared by the eight remaining teams in the Premier League.