The Hong Kong Premier League, or the HKPL, is currently the sole profession men’s system in the city. A relatively new top-division league formed in 2014, it’s a contest which can be seen as “far from perfect” and “a work in progress”, which gives both uncertainties and opportunities in Asian football.
As a football writer from Hong Kong, while I support Arsenal, I’m also a close follower of my local football. In this article, I would like to share with you are some explanations of why you should (and shouldn’t) follow the Hong Kong Premier League.
The reasons why the HKPL isn’t worth your time:
- Small league. It’s a contest with 10 clubs with only 18 games. Even the lower leagues in Japan and Korea offers more competition. Resources may be a constraint but this shouldn’t be an excuse for the HKFA not to expand the HKPL.
- Lack of big names. Sure, Nicky Butt, Mateja Kežman, Diego Forlán and most recently, Momo Sissoko, donned the jersey of HKPL clubs. Yet, the question is, when will the HKPL get a former superstar like them? In 5 or 10 years? I don’t really know.
- Predictable winner. With a tycoon like Ken Ng, the support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club and loads of cash, it’s almost certain that HKPL is a one-sided game for Kitchee (aka the Bluewaves). South China is no longer here since they relegated themselves to the amateur division. Sigh.
- The absence of charisma. The irony about Kitchee is that they’re the only squad with their own playing style as they integrated Spanish football into their DNA by cooperating with Barcelona in the early 2000s. The others? Nope.
The reasons why the HKPL is inspiring to watch:
- The thrill of the game is still here. There will be comebacks, screamers and emotional moments in the beautiful game. Surely, it’s not limited to the HKPL, but I believe that it’s a point worth mentioning.
- There are still good sides. Kitchee still has the strongest lineup but don’t leave out Eastern, HK Pegasus, Lee Man, Hoi King, Dreams and R&F (HK). Community-based teams like Southern, Yuen Long and Tai Po have excellent support since the locals are loyal to their men at all times.
- There can be surprises waiting for you. Kitchee managed to win against Kashiwa Reysol in the AFC Champions League. Tai Po salvaged a point against Yuen Long in the local derby. The shock 7-goal defeat of Eastern last season. I believe that there are more wonders to come in the future.
- There are exciting talents in HKPL. Cheng Chin-lung, Tan Chun Lok, Chuck Yiu Kwok and Yuen Ho Chun are the ones to watch. Meanwhile, you may want to pay attention to naturalised players like Jaimes McKee (England), Jordi Tarrés (Spain), Paul Ngue (Cameroon) and Sandro (Brazil).
If you’re interested in knowing the HKPL more, you may leave a comment to ask me questions. And for non-Chinese speakers, there’s a good English source of football in Hong Kong called Offside. Don’t hesitate to take a look at it if you have the time!