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Thursday 30 May 2013

South China star ready for world-class test

Defender Chan Wai Ho prepares to face some of the Premier League's top attackers

  • Chan Wai Ho lends a hand at the official launch of the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy

  • South China's Chan Wai Ho is looking forward to playing in this year's event

As tickets for the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy go on sale, South China centre-back Chan Wai Ho talks of facing the Barclays Premier League's most fearsome attackers, the importance of home support, Sean Tse coming up against his former team Manchester City, and Li Haiqing's spectacular 40-yard free-kick against Liverpool.

Hong Kong captain Chan Wai Ho will lead league champions South China into battle against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland in the Barclays Asia Trophy this July. He spoke to the in the build-up to this year's tournament.

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You took part in the Barclays Asia Trophy in 2007, how are you feeling about taking part in it again this year?
In the past few years Manchester City have invested a lot in their team, they have got some great players, so this year's tournament is even more appealing than 2007. I'm really happy South China are getting the chance to represent Hong Kong. 

Spurs and Man City in particular have lots of great attacking players, are you confident you can stop them?
I have faith in our defence. It has to be a unit. I know defending requires teamwork and cooperation; just playing well in yourself is not enough. At South China we have a lot of good defenders, I hope during the Barclays Asia Trophy we can defend well, and not make mistakes against the Premier League players.

Which players are you most looking forward to playing against?
Manchester City's attack is awesome. I really hope to play against David Silva and Sergio Aguero, because they are great players, with great touch. Spurs' attack is also very strong, for example Gareth Bale.

Gareth Bale won a lot of awards in the recent season, looking forward to potentially facing him?
I am really looking forward to it, he is Tottenham's special weapon. Although Spurs have not had a genuine tilt at winning the Premier League, they are a side packed with ability. When some of the really strong teams come up against them, they find Spurs really tough. Spurs are like a dark horse in the Premier League. Their attack is on a similar level to Manchester City.

Whether it is for South China or the Hong Kong national team, you seem to get goals. Are you hopeful of scoring in the Barclays Asia Trophy?
Although it's great to get a goal, I am a defender, so concentrating of the defensive side is most important! If I score a goal, but don’t do my job at the back, which means we lose a couple of goals, then my goal means nothing. We must understand, each player has their particular job to do. I try will try my hardest to keep the defence strong, which means my team-mates up front are free to attack.

South China defender Sean Tse was once part of Manchester City's set-up. Will he be looking forward to facing his old team?
He will have a special feeling about this, like when we play a match abroad and meet journalists from Hong Kong, that type of close feeling. Especially this time as he’ll be up against his mother club, it will be a deep feeling. He will hope to play well against his former team and fans, even hope to cause them some problems on the field, this year’s Barclays Asia Trophy is a good chance for him to prove himself.

How will you feel if South China fans turn out in force for the Barclays Asia Trophy and turn the matches into real home games?
A full stadium is a big deal for us! When fans have come out to support the Hong Kong national team, to help us play well, their support is very important to our performance. The fans give us motivation, this gives us something extra beyond any training we can do. With their support I will not tire, this is a very important element of playing at home.

Do you have any particular memories from the Barclays Asia Trophy in 2007?
Of course it is Li Haiqiang scoring from 40 yards out against Liverpool! To beat a Premier League goalkeeper from that distance was amazing. When he was being interviewed after the match, he was drenched in champagne. It was very funny.

Is it a big advantage to be playing in Hong Kong?
It's a big advantage being at home. Sometimes it is more than 30 degrees (celsius) in Hong Kong, we are used to it, maybe more than the Premier League players are! (smiles)

Any special message for the fans?

If you guys are going to the Hong Kong stadium for the Barclays Asia Trophy, and want to support South China, please wear a red shirt. You can still wear a red shirt even if you don’t support South China, because red is also Hong Kong's colour! (smiles)

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