The year of the monkey has arrived and with it the first break of the 2016 Macau Elite League season. Four match days have passed so far and Benfica Macau is leading the group of title contenders (12 points), just two points ahead of Sporting Macau, C.P.K. and Ka I. By now Monte Carlo is already 8 points behind Benfica. Meanwhile, Lai Chi appears to be a hot candidate for this year’s relegation battle.
Benfica Macau has had a perfect start into the season, winning 4 games out of 4. So far, the team already scored 20 goals, 9 of them by the striker Carlos Leonel (in the picture), while conceding not even one. This year Benfica has taken a new approach with greater focus on local players to prepare a more competitive team for the next AFC Cup Qualifiers, as team manager Duarte Alves explained. The new coach, Henrique Nunes, have had some difficulties to adapt to the Asian football reality but has nevertheless produced satisfying results so far.
Currently Benfica are chased by Sporting Macau, C.P.K. and Ka I, all of which are just two points behind the leader. However, Ka I had to deal with serious obstacles: Several players had troubles with their working visa and had to leave Macau for 3 months, among them the strikers Fabricio and Wiliam Gomes, who are two of the key players in the team. Eventually, Ka I signed a new Brazilian forward, Alex Carioca. This whole situation might have been one of the reasons why Ka I has already dropped two points against a relatively weak opponent, Chuac Lun, interfering with the plans of Ka I coach Josecler.
Sporting Macau on the other hand made up for last year’s disastrous start, by winning their first three matches.
Monte Carlo had probably one of the worst starts into the season, only securing 4 points in 4 matches, and are now already 8 points behind the leader. Therefore new coach Claudio Roberto has already come under pressure. However, it’s important to note that Monte Carlo also had the most difficult fixture list among all the title contenders.
Among all these top teams, Monte Carlo lost against both Benfica (0-1; Highlights) and C.P.K. 3-2 (2-3; Highlights) and drew with Sporting (0-0; Highlights). Ka I still have to play against the big clubs but already lost 2 points and therefore face some pressure to keep up. Benfica, C.P.K. and Sporting only played one of their crucial matches by now, with C.P.K. having nevertheless also dropped points to Lai Chi, increasing the challenge to keep pace with Sporting and Benfica. Monte Carlo’s title hopes are basically put to an end.
In the relegation battle, Lai Chi is still in the best position, but the other teams – Police (3 points), Chuac Lun (2 points), Casa de Portual (1 point) and Kei Lun (0 points) are not far away.
In any case, after just four rounds the season is still very open.
(Photo source: happymacao)