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EAFF-E1 Interview: Hong Kong international Alessandro Ferreira Leonardo



The EAFF-E1 Championship has kicked off in South Korea, with the host nation opening their account with a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong, who are back in the tournament for the first time since 2010.  Brazilian-born Alessandro Ferreira Leonardo, or Sandro, is one of their stars looking to leave his mark at this tournament, although he did not feature in the first match.  He currently plays for Wofoo Tai Po in the Hong Kong Premier League.  He has played for a collection of others in the past, including Kitchee SC for three seasons where he won the HKPL Golden Boot in 2016-17 and back-to-back titles before moving to his current club with whom he won a league title last year.  KLU's Branko Belan sat down for an exclusive interview.

(Photo courtesy of S2 Management)


How do you feel about Hong Kong's performance against Korea?

It was good.  Before, Hong Kong would lose the games by a big result, but things have improved a lot.  The team spirit yesterday was very good.  Two set pieces cost us goals but the team did well last night in my view.  You can improve more, you can learn more.  It was good for the experience.  South Korea is a tough team, and it was a home game for them.  It was difficult for us, but we did well, I think.

This is the first time since 2010 that Hong Kong have qualified for the EAFF.  What has coach Mixu Paatelainen brought to the team?

He tries to encourage us to play well, to use the ball, to use space.  He tries to give confidence to the players.  He's very open to conversation.  He understands what the players want.  He is trying to improve Hong Kong football.  I think he is a good coach.

Unfortunately, you didn't get a chance to play against Korea.  What are your greatest strengths as a striker?

For myself, it can be difficult to play alone up front, but you have to follow instructions.  But, if you attack, you can have a chance to score goals.  The coach has instructions for us, what we need to do,  If I play, I try to do my best, the same as always.  I try to move, I try to finish; I try to do everything that I can do, but it's a tough game.

What are your goals for the future with the national team.  What are Hong Kong's goals for the rest of the tournament?

For myself, and I think the other players feel the same, to win the next game or get a draw is very important, and to try to beat China in the last game.  I think need to watch and wait to see what will happen.

What made you choose Hong Kong as a destination for your football career?

[Actually], I want to play outside of Hong Kong, especially Korea because I like the style of football.  It's pass and move; the style of football is very fast. I like it.  I want to have an opportunity to play [in Korea].  I will try because my contract in Hong Kong is finished in February.  I have discussed with my club to see if I can get an early release.  I want an opportunity to play outside of Hong Kong, in Korea, China or Japan.  This is my target.

Turning to club level, Tai Po will face Malaysian side Kedah in the second preliminary round of ACL qualifying.  What do you know about them and how do you rate your chances against them?

Everything is possible.  I think if Tai Po prepare well for this tournament, we can win.  I know it's a tough game because it's an away game but we have a chance to play against them and win the game.

We were champions last year, but this year is totally different because many players left, even the coach also left, but we still have a good team; we still have good players.  I think if Tai Po prepares well for this tournament, we can beat them.

K League United would like to extend a thank you to Sandro and his agent Rodrigo Mello of S2 Management for taking the time to join us for this interview.  Hong Kong next plays Japan on Saturday December 14th at 7:30 p.m.  Their final match of the competition will be against China next Wednesday December 18th at 4:15 p.m.

Those who are signed up to our K2 Champions tier on our Patreon can also hear an audio version of this interview by clicking here. If you wish to support the site, obtain exclusive content and help with grassroots football up in Seoul, you can find more information about our Patreon here

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