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Wednesday 17 July 2013

Zesh Rehman warns Man City of tough test against South China

Kitchee defender says Hong Kong champions will challenge at Barclays Asia Trophy

  • Rehman in action for Kitchee against Arsenal's Theo Walcott last summer

  • Cheng Lai Hin is in the South China squad to face City on 24 July

Zesh Rehman has warned Manchester City that they will be in for a tough match when they face South China in the Barclays Asia Trophy on 24 July.

After Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland kick off the tournament, the Barclays Premier League champions of 2011/12 take on last season’s Hong Kong champions, whose squad was announced today. Rehman, the former Fulham defender who plays for Kitchee in Hong Kong, says Manuel Pellegrini’s side can expect a physical battle at Hong Kong Stadium.

"South China look to get behind and are quite physical, so it will be a good game"
Zesh Rehman

“South China will be fit and quite physical and will give the Premier League clubs a run for their money,” Rehman told premierleague.com. “They have their own style of play it will be a good test and good for the local players as well to play a Premier League side.

“They are quite direct. They don't seek to pass and pass again. They play a little bit but, while not the long ball, they look to go forward as much as they can and look to get behind and are quite physical, too, so it will be a good game.”

Rehman says City should be careful not to let South China’s Brazilian imports, including Carlos Augusto Bertoldi (“Ticao”), too much time to pass the ball and that the speed of the South China players may catch the Barclays Premier League side unawares.

“They have some quick players,” he said. “There are a couple of Brazilians who give good quality to the side, one in midfield, one at the back. The one in midfield, Ticao, is a left-footer and is good at pulling the strings. He gets them playing.”

Rehamn loving life in Hong Kong

After becoming the first British Asian to play in the Barclays Premier League Rehman moved to a team in Thailand before arriving in Hong Kong, where he is enjoying life.

“I am loving it,” Rehman said. “It is such a great place to live. It is a big city like London but can be a bit manic at times. But I live in a quiet part of the island so can get away from it. It has been a great football experience and a great life experience for me as well. I have enjoyed meeting different people and cultures.”

"The Asian fans all know about the clubs, the history of the Premier League"
Zesh Rehman

As for the fans, Rehman has been impressed by their enthusiasm for the game and for the Barclays Premier League. “They are amazing,” he said. “They are so passionate. Any clubs that come out to Asia, they always go back saying the same thing and I am living there so I know exactly how it feels.

“The fans all know about the clubs, the history of the Premier League. It is shown everywhere, because it is arguably the best league in the world and wherever I have played in Asia it is on the TVs, be it Thailand, Malaysia, etc.”

Rehman was speaking at a conference at Queen’s Park Rangers’ Loftus Road to promote Sidelined-2-Sidelines, a coach education and mentoring scheme which is designed to develop British Asian coaches in order to increase the number of young people from minority communities accessing high-quality football coaching. The scheme was set up this year by the Zesh Rehman Foundation with the help of a grant from the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association. The idea is that these coaches will act as role models to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

Upon his return to Hong Kong, Rehman will be back in training with Kitchee who will face Manchester United in a friendly and he has a few words of advice for the players from Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland on what to do in their downtime during the Barclays Asia Trophy.

“I would say to them, ‘Go out and have a look,’ ” he said. “Just soak it in and enjoy it. Go downtown, where there are so many restaurants.”

A limited number of tickets are still available for semi-finals day and can be bought here.

South China squad for Barclays Asia Trophy

Goalkeepers
Tsang Man Fai, Tin Man Ho, Zhang Chunhui.

Defenders
Tse Sean Ka Keung, Chak Ting Fung, Jovo Pavlovic, Chan Wai Ho, Liu Stephen Garlock, Jonathan Jack Sealy, Joel Bertoti Padilha.

Midfielders
Carlos Augusto Bertoldi, Lee Wai Lim, Joao Emir Porto Pereira, Aender Naves Mesquita, Chan Siu Kwan, Lee Hong Lim, Kwok Kin Pong, Luk Michael Chi Ho, Lo  Kong Wai, Kouta Jige.

Forwards
Dhiego de Souza Martins, Mamadou Hady Barry, Cheng Lai Hin Michael.

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Key Points

  • Man City will have a tough match against South China in the Barclays Asia Trophy, says Zesh Rehman
  • Rehman now plays for South China's rivals Kitchee and says City can expect a physical battle
  • Rehman loving life in Hong Kong where the passion for the Barclays Premier League is huge