The 2017 Macau Elite League will only begin in January of next year but there are already some “off the pitch” news that we would like to share with our readers.
This time, Sporting Macau will probably not be among the title contenders. In summer, Sporting’s main sponsor MGM announced that they will not renew their contract with the team, which means that the “Lions” needed to find new financial back-up in a very short time. Unfortunately, the search was not successful and earlier this month the board of the club resigned. The future of one of the best teams in Macau remains unknown, but they will most likely still participate in the league, with a significantly lower budget. Portuguese goalkeeper Hugo Cardoso and striker Pio Junior have already left the club to join Portuguese 3rd Division teams Sacavenense and Cinfães respectively.
This kind of situation is not new in Macau. Due to the league’s amateur status, it has never been easy for clubs to secure substantial sponsorship deals, mostly depending on the generosity of one single source. Last year, Ka I was in a similar situation, but eventually ended up with a new partner.
In other news, early September, Monte Carlo went on a 4 day trip to the Chinese province of Guangxi, where they played a friendly match with the regional champion of Qinzhou. The game ended 5-3 for the Macau team with goals by Andresen Ribas, Jackson Sousa, Fabrício Lima, João Miguel Gonçalves and Lo Kuan Io. Monte Carlo regularly travels to mainland China for training camps and test matches with Chinese teams. Last year Monte Carlo went to Beijing to play against Chinese Super League giant Beijing Guoan. After the match in Qinzhou, Monte Carlo team manager Firmino Mendonsa said, “It was another excellent contact with a team from mainland China.”
There is also news regarding Benfica Macau: Portuguese key player Edgar Teixeira left the club and will return to Portugal. The midfielder was one of the best players in Macau and will be a big loss for the team, since he had already obtained permanent citizenship and didn’t count as a foreign player anymore.
There was also an unlikely transfer involving a player from Macau: Hong Kong Premier League newcomers signed a short-term contract with 46-year-old C.P.K. goalkeeper Domingos Chan, as two of their goalkeepers were suddenly injured. However, they seem to have recovered and it is rather unlikely that Chan will still appear in Hong Kong this season.
Finally, the AFC announced the new AFC Club Competitions Criteria for the coming years, and starting from 2018 all teams that want to enter in the AFC Cup will need to fulfill the specific AFC Club Criteria. In reality, Macau football still has a long way to go to meet all these requirements, which will be a big challenge for both the FA and the Elite League clubs. Nevertheless, there appears to be some silver linging as well. In November, the Macau representative team were runners-up in the AFC Solidarity Cup, only losing to Nepal 1-0 in the final, after beating the likes of Mongolia, Laos and Brunei.
Picture: Presidents of Sporting Lisbon (right) and Sporting Macau (left)