Hong Kong has been drawing lots of negative attention this week – specifically the semi-flooded state of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch, on which the Barclays Asia Trophy is being played. It consists of 3 EPL teams and a local side sliding through puddles under the guise of vaguely competitive soccer.
Beijing Cream quotes Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, whose key central defender Jan Vertonghen will miss the start of the season after getting injured playing on the slippery surface:
“The choice of the venue is this one and the weather is unpredictable. The pitch is what it is and has always been like this in this trophy. It isn’t great but nobody is going to change it for next time. Obviously the conditions are extremely poor and the players are vulnerable to this type of situation.”
before summing up with this line:
Translation: we are never coming here again.
Elsewhere, Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio called it a “killer pitch”, which will now face three further games in the next three days. Villas-Boas has said he would prefer not to have to play South China on Saturday (though of course he has no choice), while Sunderland and Manchester City face each other in the “final”, also on Saturday. With more wet weather forecast, Manchester United play Kitchee FC at the same venue on Monday.
Soccer teams have studiously avoided visiting the mainland this summer, but have draped themselves all over Asia instead. Here’s the Guardian’s take:
What will happen, of course, is that next summer, the unhappy clubs will be back to provincial locations in England – Runcorn, Peterborough, Rhyl and ilk – where they can do what they want. Except, of course, that next summer, the unhappy clubs will be back to various locations around the galaxy because of money.
More soccer now, and an article by yours truly on the farcical fallout from the sacking of Jose Antonio Camacho as China’s national team coach, who is now suing the CFA for millions of dollars and may well have a good case despite ending with a record of P20, W7, D2, L11, GF23, GA31. Here’s an excerpt:
But the misguided notion persists among certain levels of management that experienced and successful foreign coaches can immediately transfer their supposedly superior knowledge to any set of Chinese players and results on the field are bound to improve. China’s millions of soccer fans know otherwise, of course, because they have seen this experiment fail time and again.
And finally, China is again dominating the diving competition at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona. He Chong won his third straight world title in the men’s 3m springboard on Friday evening, meaning China has now taken golds in seven of the eight events so far, with two more expected in the final two events.
Spare a thought for Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan who were leading halfway through the final of the men’s 10m synchro earlier in the week before two poor dives dropped them down to third. It was the first diving gold medal China had failed to win at the World Championships for four years and the first time China had failed to win gold in this event since 2005.
Usually, some commentator would say how they let the coaches down, they’ve let the fans down, they’ve let their families down, but most of all, they’ve let themselves down. Except this is Chinese diving, so they’ve only let their country down.
The swimming starts on Sunday. China will likely show continued improvement – and face further doping questions – but the Americans are still the dominant force.