You are here: HOME > About > Publication > Macao Sport
2016 / NO.4
2016 / NO.4
The Macau Football Team's Fantastic Journeys

The Macau Football Team achieved remarkable results marking a “Fantastic November” in November this past year within the Macau football circle. In the matches of the Solidarity Cup, which was hosted by the Asian Football Confederation for the first time, the Macau Football Team, which all Macau football fans followed closely and enthusiastically, reached the finals of the match. The Macau Team earned the title of runner-up having only lost to Nepal. In their next major competition, the Guangdong-Macau Cup, the Macau Team defeated Guangdong vigorously at both the home field and the away field, winning the trophy which the Macau Team had failed to gain in the past two terms. These exciting results consolidated the players' and the public's confidence in addition to increasing interest of the Macau Football Team while setting a new pacemaker for the next generation of the team.

The Surprising Break into the Final of the Solidarity Cup

The objective of the Solidarity Cup hosted by the Asian Football Confederation is to allow more football teams to have opportunities to participate in large-scale competitions. The initial competitions include the World Cup qualifier and additional competition of the Asian Cup qualifier, which involved 9 losing football teams. Among them were a total number of 7 teams: Brunei, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Macau, who all decided to participate in the competition.

The Macau Team, which had been considered unpromising before the competition, achieved shocking and brilliant results quickly in group match play. Having lagged behind twice in Group B, the Macau Team snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by beating Mongolia and Laos. Then they tied with Sri Lanka and broke into the semi-final as the first team among the four within the group. However, the Macau Team did not rest on their laurels as they persisted when they tied 1:1 with Brunei after they had lost one point. The Macau Team claimed victory in  the penalty kick round, proceeding to the final. All football fans were moved by this. Sadly, in the Grand Final, Macau lost 0:1 to Nepal. Despite this glorious defeat for the Macau Team, they proceeded with heads held high while being honored as the runner-up on the podium. In all the matches, Leong Ka Hang was recognized as the best player as he had contributed two goals and two assists.

Winning the Trophy again in the Guangdong-Macau Cup: A Perfect Ending

Less than half month later, the Macau Team, who performed with increasing confidence, shined again in the Guangdong-Macau Cup. Facing the Guangzhou Haoxin Team, who represented Guangdong, the Macau Team swept Guangzhou Haoxin 2:1 at the away match, and 3:1 at the home field match. They won the trophy which they had lost in the past two terms, by a margin of 5:2 in the two matches, drawing a perfect conclusion to 2016. Having finished all the competitions of the whole year, the Macau Football Association awarded the Macau Football Team prize money in the amount of MOP480,000.00 during the victory celebration gathering. Dr. Alexis Tam Chon Weng, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, and Cheung Lup Kwan, President of the Macau Football Association, attended and praised the Macau Team for their rich accomplishments.

Cheang Cheng Ieong: Thanks to the Effort made over the Years

Captain Cheang Cheng Ieong, who led the Macau Team in the Solidarity Cup, Guangdong-Macau Cup and other competitions, stated that the continuous progress of the Macau Football Team depended on the effort that the coaches and players have made over the years. “Since the Japanese coach took over the team, we began our systematic training. Leung Sui Weng had taught us the basic skill of defensive counterattack, and during the new era with Tam Iao San, we further strengthened the skillfulness of defensive counterattack”, Cheung Cheng Ieong stated. “In addition, we have been further supported and followed closely by the government, the Association, fans and so on. That is why we can develop to this stage. During the process, different factors are further connected with one another that each aspect is indispensable.”

In these two years, the Macau Football Team gained more practical experiences. Apart from those large-scale competitions such as the World Cup Asian regional qualifier, the East Asian Cup qualifier, and so on, they also participated in friendly matches with football associations from places such as Malaysia, Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong, and China Taipei successively. On one hand, the Macau Team's use of strategies and skills were sharpened through actual competitions. On the other hand, the team also drew more fans' attention. Given the increase in the number of fans at the matches and the daily increase in interest, discussion, and comments, Cheang Cheng Ieong admitted that the team is highly motivated, “Over these years, more people paid attention to the Macau Football Team, regardless of whether they are media and fans.

There are also more live channels dedicated to the Macau Team's competitions through TV and Internet. Even though we compete overseas, we can feel the support from the fans in Macau. Let's take the matches of the Solidarity Cup for example. There were over ten thousands of viewers on the Internet.”

Having gained experiences and been trained around ten years, the players at different levels of the team are now in order. There are also some players who have gone overseas to pursue professional careers and foreign players who have integrated with the local team. From Cheang Cheng Ieong's perspective, the opportunities for the development of Macau football are everywhere. The Association has prepared for three friendly matches for the team in the coming year, so as to prepare them for the East Asia Cup Qualifier striving to break into the second round. Cheang Cheng Ieong, who is now in his thirties, also declared that after those competitions, he will gradually transit to the position of coach in the hope that he can achieve the dream of becoming a professional football coach.

Leong Ka Hang sets a model in his career path

Given the continuously increasing popularity of Macau football, and the increase in the communication channels between the Macau Team and overseas associations, Macau football players are provided with more possibilities of competing abroad with other international professional clubs. Leong Ka Hang, who is a 24-year-old young player and who has been honored “Macau's Mr. Football” twice, officially joined Hong Kong Premier League Tai Po Football Club in 2014. After competing in the two-season event, he was transferred to Hong Kong Pegasus FC. Then he completed the AFC status and became its player. He became one of the most successful professional football player in Macau, following Domingos Chan.

Leong Ka Hang, who entered his professional career while attending university, admitted that he never felt easy in this career path, “In the first year after I joined the professional football club, I was still studying in the university. I used to travel between Hong Kong and Macau. I seemed to be both working and studying. Traveling between two places frequently affected me a lot. As a result, I was often injured.” What motivated Ka Hang to continue was the support from his family as well as friends, and his passion for playing football. As he insisted with hard work and perseverance, he gradually became accustomed with the life of being a professional football player. He also learned to relax and rest at times other than training and competitions, so as to keep his physical and psychological conditions at their best. In the competitions of the Macau Football Solidarity Cup, he performed outstandingly with his two goals and two assists, and became the MVP in the competitions.

Leong Ka Hang thinks that currently the Macau football circle is giving youngsters more opportunities to go out and learn, but he thinks that if a player wants to engage in the professional field, his earnest attitude is a determinant factor. He stated, “If a player really hopes to develop on the path of a football career, he must set greater objectives for himself. He should not feel satisfied easily, and he should cultivate the will to pursue progress continuously at the early age, in order to stand out in the professional field.”

Chan Man Experienced Hardships on the Career Path

However, in such a cruel and realistic career world, it is not the case that every player who has foreign experience can reach his dream. For instance, Chan Man, Macau's Mr. Football in 2016, had gained a contract from Segunda Liga Sporting Clube Olhanense in August with the help from an enterprise from mainland China.  He had received training for a month or so before the enterprise stopped sponsoring the Association at the end of the year, and thus he lost the opportunity to enter the professional football field.

Despite the fact that the precious opportunity to fulfill his career dream by joining Portuguese Segunda Liga was broken, Chan Man is still thankful for the opportunity to receive training from Portuguese Segunda Liga given by the enterprise and the Association, since he could understand what the attitude of a professional player should be. “Every player from Olhanense makes all effort to practice. This determination is not only seen from their strong confrontation abilities and techniques, it is also seen from their consciousness to strive for the best”, Chan Man stated, “They do not know when the scout will pay attention to them. In order to enter the field at a high level, they have done all their best.”

Chan Man is persistent for his dream, and he has experienced the loneliness in Portugal as a player who has gone overseas. He had to be under pressure from maintaining a good condition. He could never imagine that he would be made to return to Macau for the sobering reason that the enterprise stopped cooperating with the Association. This experience allowed him to deeply understand how difficult it is to enter professional football as a career. At the same time, he also hopes that everyone from the coming generations will understand clearly whether they really love playing football, since only those who really love playing football can do their best when facing all unknown challenges.