by Christopher KL Lau
Ricardo Rambo is a stalwart of Hong Kong football who has lived and breathed the local game since arriving in Hong Kong in 1998 to play for South China. After several transitions as a player and coach, life has gone full circle and he is now the manager of the “Caroliners” who are on the brink of AFC Cup glory.
The Brazilian born Rambo has years of experience in the local game and is well placed to discuss all the many changes he has seen including the rise of the Hong Kong Premier League and from a brief stint with Guangdong Sunray Cave, the phenomenon growth of Chinese football. Ricardo Rambo kindly took some time out to discuss South China’s chances of success in the AFC Cup 2016.
South China are now in a very strong position in the AFC Cup. Do you think you can reach and win the final?
This is what we are working towards and we have this mentality of getting to the final. It was really hard work for us to get into this position and we have to go for it. It will be a very tough game now (against Johor Darul) who were the previous champions.
You joined South China in a period of transition after a slow start in the AFC Cup, how did you change the mentality of the players to a winning one?
First of all, we brought the players together to fight for the same aim and our situation then was win or die and this was the situation, we had to go and win matches. In my first game, when we went to the Maldives, we couldn’t get a result there so we needed three wins in three games.
First, we brought them together as a team. Secondly, we had to play attacking football. We could not wait for the other team anymore so we had to change the mentality of the players and used more pressing. It was good as we had some guys who could really press and the remaining games were really good and we kept doing this in the next stage when we went to the Philippines. Even though we were playing away, the team did really well up until extra time. We used our increased power strength and fitness conditioning to help gain a good result against Ceres La Salle.
South China are the biggest and most historical club in Hong Kong. Do you feel that expectation as a manager to do well.
Yes, I feel that South China are a club who always have to fight for the title. When I came in my first year, this is what I felt and this has stayed the same so we have to fight harder and bring people to believe in this big club again. There is still some doubt now but if we can compete for the titles and if we can win the AFC Cup then this will bring people back together.