Kitchee’ Juan Belencoso compares the Hong Kong league with Spain and Portugal’s
Kitchee’s perennial hitman and goal machine, Juan Belencoso has been striking fear into the heart of many a defender in Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific for several years now. His goals have consistently ensured success for Kitchee and last year, this culminated in the club winning the domestic treble and cemented his name as a fan favorite amongst Kitchee’s loyal supporters.
The well travelled forward also recently added another achievement to his long list of accolades when, in recognition for all his efforts for Kitchee, he was recently nominated for the Asian Football Confederation’s Foreign Player of the Year award.
Juan Belencoso recently took time to have a chat about the state of the game in Hong Kong and of course, his time at Hong Kong champions Kitchee.
You were leading scorer in the AFC Cup 2014 when Kitchee made the semi-final round and lost. How tough was it to fall at the final hurdle given that you had made such as huge contribution?
For Kitchee, it was really difficult because it was the first time we had made the semi-final round. For me, it was also important as I had scored up to eleven goals at that point but the most important thing was the team. In the second game, we had to come back and we ended up playing really really well. We were quite happy as we had never made the AFC Cup semi-final (at that time) and the opponents were a good team. When we finished the game (and lost) it was difficult as in football, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
You have played in Spain, Portugal and Hong Kong. How can you compare the style of play?
I think the style of football all around the world is the same but sometimes when you have different cultures then sometimes the style is a little different. The style in Spain, for example, involves more plays with the ball, quality touches and more tactics and more technical skills. Portugal, at this moment, are a little different as the league is more physical and strong and involves more longer balls. Hong Kong is like Spain but is now Kitchee plays really well with the ball and many of our players have very good technique and every time and everyday always try and play really well with the ball and many of the other teams do not play like Kitchee. This is ok as one team plays with the ball and another team plays with a different model but I think football is similar all around the world. Kitchee won the treble last year.
What was the secret behind your success and do you think you can win the treble this year?
This year (season) will be difficult for us as we have many many games to play and we have had many new players and we also have a new coach (Abraham Garcia) who arrived and the change is going well as we have players who work very hard every day. Jose Molina (Previous Kitchee manager) had very high standards and it was difficult to win three cups in one season though for all the matches Mr. Molina prepared very well pre-match and the most important thing was the team and for the team to be one group. The most important factor for success is for all people to work together in one group and to play really well.
Kitchee have a really distinct style of play and a good passing game. Has this style of play always been at the heart of Kitchee’s philosophy?
Kitchee’s philosophy is very distinctive as Kitchee only have this style of play and maybe Pegasus. We play from the back with the ball using the goalkeeper, center-back and full backs and we always try and play with the ball. This style and philosophy of play started many years ago with Mr. Josep Gombau (Former Kitchee Manager) around five years ago, he had this philosophy which had to picked up and learnt at Barcelona which involved a neat passing game and entertaining the fans. Thank You!
All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau
Christopher KL Lau is a freelance writer and photographer. Follow him on Twitter
Author: Christopher Lau
Christopher KL Lau was born in England and grew up in both England and Hong Kong, and has a background in media, education and non-profits. He also is a freelance writer / photographer and has written for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers around the world on many subjects ranging from the arts to travel.
Chris is passionate about sports and its place in society and is keen to promote both Hong Kong and Chinese football to a wider audience.