The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) had fined and banned 10 age-group players from playing for the representative national team for one year after they reportedly vandalised hotel rooms during a drinking session on their AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers tour in Japan last October.
This week, the HKFA announced it would reject an appeal and hand a similar ban to player Shinichi Chan for his role in the incident, which came after Hong Kong’s defeat by Japan in Fukushima. The promising 19-year-old has featured for the senior Hong Kong team but will miss their Asian Cup qualifiers in June.
Responding at his first press conference since taking up the role last month, former Norway international and ex-North Korea manager Andersen said: “First, we all the staff and players from the Hong Kong team have to be and work as professionals.
“We don’t allow drinking alcohol when you are with or travelling with the national team. That is not possible.
“[Regarding] the selection of players, everything [happened] before my time so I am not so informed, but I know some players have been disqualified for a year, which is not too good information for me. But we will still try to perform and build a new team with the players I can pick from.”
As for the perpetual fan debate over whether Hong Kong should prioritise locally bred or naturalised overseas players, Anderson said selection will be based on ability and fitting into his style of offensive and high-pressing style of play.
“It’s not an easy question,” he said. “But it’s important for me to select the best players, or the players who can play in or pass [well] in my system – what I want to play.
“If I select a local player or [player originally from overseas], I will see. At the moment I have seen a lot of matches on video. Some club players have left a good impression, but the most important thing is when I can see the games at the stadiums and get a bit of a better impression.”
Andersen, who last managed Incheon United in South Korea’s K-League, said he had already liaised with some prospective national team players, in Hong Kong and in the mainland. He had previously praised the work-rate and discipline of Asian players, whereas some Europe-based players he had overseen required more motivation.
“This week coming out of quarantine, I had some communication with some local players in the training centre and office,” Andersen said.
“I also met some who play in China. We have had very good communication together and I have good impressions from all who want to play for the Hong Kong national representative team.
“They asked me a lot of questions – it’s important they know who the head coach is and what they want to do. I told them of my style and ideas for the future. I think it was very positive.”