Ledley King insists Tottenham Hotspur players are not angry about Hong Kong friendly - and will win the title soon
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will head to Hong Kong for postseason meeting with local Premier League champions on May 26 just five days after the end of the domestic season in England
Tottenham Hotspur players remain united in the belief that they can soon win the Premier League title despite this season’s trophy slipping out of view – and they are also together in their support of this month’s postseason friendly against Hong Kong champions Kitchee, according to former defender Ledley King.
A report in the British tabloid, The Sun, claimed Tottenham players were unhappy about being shipped off to Hong Kong for the May 26 meeting with Kitchee at Hong Kong Stadium, which will take place just five days after the end of the Premier League season.
Spurs are set to arrive in Hong Kong for the third time in 10 years after falling agonisingly short of a first league title since 1961 after last week’s defeat by London rivals West Ham United all but handed the trophy to Chelsea.
But King insists Mauricio Pochettino’s side will head to Hong Kong, where main sponsor AIA are listed on the Hang Seng Index, in good spirits despite the unsupported claim by The Sun that “some of the team’s stars are unhappy they must play one more game”.
“From a players point of view, I have been a player, players will complain about anything from time to time,” joked Spurs club ambassador King, who was forced to retire due to injury five years ago aged just 31.
“I don’t know if there is any truth in the story, but I know when the players come here, they will enjoy being here. They know it is part of their responsibilities as players at a big club, which we want to be, and part of that is about fulfilling our obligations and the players are aware of it.
“When the players come here there will be no problems whatsoever, the players will be integrated into the community and will look forward to the game.”
Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin confirmed Tottenham are contractually obliged to bring and field a full-strength side, and are expected to include the likes of striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli. Tottenham are still on course to claim second place in the Premier League behind Chelsea, which would be their best finish since 1963, having finished third last season under Argentinian Pochettino.
They also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they lost to Chelsea, who will play Arsenal on May 27 in London.
“There is a project at the moment, and a big part of that is the manager, you have got to want to play for the manager,” added King.
“You can see the team spirit, you can see the way they celebrate goals, and from my understanding, everyone is happy with the team and the way things are going.
“When you don’t win things you end up feeling disappointed, and they would have been feeling disappointed after the West Ham game, but for the team, they are a young team and it is very difficult to win the Premier League.
“We are building a young team and I feel like everyone is happy and everyone is buying into the project.”
Kitchee, who beat Eastern on Saturday to win the Hong Kong Premier League title, face a race against time to sell the 40,000 seats at Hong Kong Stadium for the tie, although around 13,000 have already been allocated to sponsors.
Presales will begin on Wednesday before the tickets, which are priced at K$680, HK$480 and HK$330 for adults and HK$180 for students and senior citizens, go on general sale on Monday.
Organisers will hope for a better return than seen in July last year when just 14,000 fans turned up to see Italian champions Juventus beat local side South China, resulting in a financial loss after needing to fill at least half of the 40,000-capacity venue to just break even.
The match is the only time a local side will face Premier League opposition this summer after officials confirmed July’s Asia Trophy will be without a local representive for the first time.