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Adam Hughes – ‘It would be a huge loss to Harbin if we had to relocate’

Harbin Yiteng won a nail-biting final day promotion from China League One with a 5-2 win over Chongqing F.C. and Aussie Adam Hughes, 31, played a vital role in the North East side going up. Yiteng in third and Guangdong Sunray Cave in second faced an unbelievable final day of the season with the club level on points, games won, lost and drawn as well as a goal difference of 23.

Yiteng’s former Adelaide United and Perth Glory midfielder Hughes is naturally delighted at his sides promotion to the Chinese Super League but it could come at a great cost as his side do not have the stadium requirements at present to enter the CSL.

Speaking with Wild East Football’s Peter Davis, Hughes talks about how Yiteng need to adapt in 2014, the injury that kept him out of the run in and the ugly issue of relocation, something he believes the club should work hard to avoid.

How does promotion feel Adam?

It’s a great feeling, we have worked so hard as a club and the players have developed so much over the past two seasons that it has made it very satisfying.

You were injured toward the end of last season and left early for treatment, what happened there? Was it painful to not be able to help in the promotion race?

I missed the last three matches due to a full tear of my AC ligament. Initially the pain was excruciating then after around two weeks it started to settle down. In China the hospital staff said I needed surgery so I was in the mindset that would be needed but on arrival to Australia I had an appointment to see a surgeon and it was decided I should try to recover without surgery and now it is coming along in leaps and bounds.

Harbin fans have laid a club shirt in support of moving their team away from Heilongjiang

Harbin fans have laid a club shirt in support of moving their team away from Heilongjiang

Due to weather conditions, Harbin played their first nine games away from home in 2013 and relocation is being discussed due to the clubs facilities, what are your thoughts on that?

I think the local government needs to embrace the football club and do anything possible to keep the club in its current location. We have very passionate fans and that will only grow in the super league. So in that regard the local government should be looking to improve training and playing facilities to have the club playing and training there ten months of the year. It would be a huge loss to Harbin if we had to relocate.

Obviously for Harbin, strengthening the squad is an absolute must, with promotion comes an extra two spots for foreign players but where do you think Harbin need to strengthen?

The club will strengthen though these decisions will be made from the management side from analysis of this year and previous experience involved in the super league.

Tell me about Harbin’s set up in terms of youth development and coaching?

Our squad is a very youthful set up. In regards to youth development I have heard the club have a youth academy in Dalian that has been regarded as a great youth set up in China. Many players have been developed there and gone onto have professional careers.

Next season you will run into the likes of Lippi, Yakubu and Vagner Love to name a few, is that intimidating?

It will be exciting for the club. We have to keep working hard on the training pitch, stay confident and settle as quickly as possible in the super league.

Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. He can be found on Twitter and Weibo at @peteydavis

Pete is from Sheffield, England and came to China in 2008 initially living in Shenyang where he witnessed his first CSL game, Liaoning Whowin v Chengdu Blades. Pete is a fanatic Sheffield Wednesday fan but has picked up football allegiances from various trips, Galatasary in Turkey, Piacenza in Italy and Muangthong United in Thailand. In early 2009 he moved to Beijing and after a brief time started attending Guoan games regularly. Pete graduated in Journalism in the UK and has written for several educational publications on Chinese education for his day job as well as Chinese football for WEF which he wishes was more developed but avidly follows the Imperial Guards on their quest for CSL supremacy regardless.

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