With the new season fast approaching, offside.hk offers some more “off the pitch” news from our neighbours Macau. The Elite League will start on January 13th and we already figured out who you should watch out for.
As was annouced in our last update, Sporting Macau is facing an internal crisis. The board resigned after having failed to find a new sponsor. New elections were scheduled for December 14th, but the general assembly has not received any candidate list, so the elections were postponed to an unknown date. In spite of this situation, the club already confirmed that they will still play in the 2017 Macau Elite League, albeit with a less competitive team and a new coach. Only 3 players remain from the previous squad.
Monte Carlo coach Claudio Roberto annouced that he will stay one more season with the team. The club also confirmed the signing of four new Brazilian players, while Neto will remain with the team. After a slow beginning last season, Monte Carlo finished in impressive style and this year they will be a true title contender.
Champions Benfica Macau announced big signings of new players, and most of them come from Sporting Macau. Among them are Lee Keng Pang, Rafael Bastardo, Nathan, and Joe. In addition, Pang Chi Hang joins from Lai Chi and goalkeeper Batista from Ka I. Benfica is also in negotiations with the Portuguese trio Edgar Teixeira, Marco Meireles and Bernardo, who previously announced to leave the club at the end of the 2016 season, but Benfica is still trying to get their key players back. Meanwhile, Iuri Capelo is heading to Sporting Macau and Filipe Aguiar signed with the Gibraltar team Mons Calpe.
Like Sporting, Ka I – one of the biggest teams in Macau – also faced financial difficulties. Their sponsor will not continue to support them, so they will field a less competitive team. Many players have left the club already.
C.P.K. appears to be another title contender this season. They kept the majority of their players from last year; only Roni Silva and Ismael Ortega left the club. The big signing for C.P.K. is former Sporting centre-back Vitor Almeida.
Kei Lun and Ching Fung are two teams that could cause some upsets this season. Both have strengthened their squads. Kei Lun announced the signing of former Ka I coach Josecler and Ching Fung, which have their very first season in the Elite League, also hired several foreigner players, including Brazilians Fabricio Lima, Timba and Roni Silva, who have a lot of experience in Macanse football.
As mentioned, the season will start on January 13th and will feature 10 teams. For this year we expect to see a three horse race between Benfica Macau, C.P.K. and Monte Carlo. Ka I, Sporting, Ching Fung, Lai Chi, Kei Lun, Macau U-23 (aka Development) and Policia are the teams fighting for the remaining spots.
No slot allocation for Macau in the 2017 AFC Cup