30 July 2016
Kick-off 16.00 (10.00 CEST)
Hong Kong Stadium
South China vs Juventus
30 July 2016
South China ply their trade in the Hong Kong Premier League and are the division’s most successful side, having won 41 First Division titles. This honours list is completed by 31 Senior Shields, 10 FA Cup victories and three League Cup triumphs.
The HKFA top tier, sponsored by BOGC Life, is comprised of nine teams and became a professional division in September 2014. At the end of each season, one team is promoted from the Hong Kong First Division League tier with another making way.
In both 2015 and 2016, South China reached the last 16 of the AFC Cup, becoming the only Hong Kong-based outfit to accomplish such a feat. Last season saw them record a third-place finish, narrowly missing out on qualification for the AFC Cup playoffs as a result.
In the dugout is Brazilian Ricardo Rambo, who is the club’s caretaker manager following two separate spells as assistant. His squad is spearheaded by star performer Mahama Awal, a Cameroonian winger whose trickery and pace has seen him net seven goals in 13 AFC Cup appearances.
South China are part of the South China Athletic Association, founded in 1908.
The club is one of just a handful in Hong Kong and boasts a strong regional identity, originally hailing from the Caroline Hill area of the city, a location from which its nickname of the “Caroliners” is derived.
It was in this district that South China first set up a permanent home in 1953, occupying a 12,000-capacity stadium that was subsequently demolished in 1997.
Originally known as the “Chinese Football Team”, South China joined the HKFA in 1916, paving the way for a period of local dominance that began with the club’s first league title in 1924 and lasted throughout the 1930s. Providing the midas touch at the time was legendary Lee Wai Tong, a striker often regarded as the greatest Chinese footballer of all time.
Following the Second World War, the club continued to go from strength to strength, amassing an impressive 19 titles between 1948 and 1978. Its reputation within the continent of Asia grew and grew during the 1980s and 90s, largely thanks to the arrival of foreign players such as Tommy Langley, Brian McDermott and Arie Haan.
Financial difficulties brought a halt to this upward trajectory inside the new millennium, but the backing of local businessman Steven Lo restored the club to its former glories by the end of the 2006/07 campaign.
This investment has attracted the services of household names from the English Premier League, with former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt and Chelsea frontman Mateja Kezman both moving to the Far East for the 2010/11 campaign.
While the multi-purpose Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, opened in 2009 for the East Asian Games, is South China’s regular home, its limited 3,500 capacity means Juventus will be taking on the hosts in Hong Kong’s main sporting venue: the Hong Kong Stadium.
Originally opened in 1953 as the Government Stadium, the 40,000 seater arena was refurbished in 1994 and has hosted the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament (in 1997 and 2005) as well as several pop concerts.