Macau

澳門 / Macao / Macau

  • Capital: Macau
  • Population: 682,800 (2020 estimate)
  • Official Languages: Chinese, Portuguese
  • Regional Language: Cantonese
  • Nicknames: Selecção do Lótus (The Lotus’ Team); Verdes (The Greens)
  • Association: Associação de Futebol de Macau (AFM) / 澳門足球總會
  • Top Domestic Leagues: Liga de Elite (men)
  • FIFA Code: MAC

Records

  • Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
  • Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
  • Best Asian Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
  • Best Asian Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
  • Best AFC Challenge Cup (Men): Group Stage (2006)
  • Best AFC Solidarity Cup (Men): Finalists (2016)
  • Best EAFF Championship (Men): Second Preliminary Round (2008)
  • Best EAFF Championship (Women): First Preliminary Round (2015, 2017)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 156th (September 1997)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 133rd (December 2014)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 204th (July 2014)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 148th (September 2015)
  • Most Capped Player: Cheang Cheng Ieong – 44 caps [as of October 2021]
  • Top Scorer: Chan Kin Seng – 17 goals [as of October 2021]

Introduction & Brief History

The trading port city of Macau / Macao / 澳門, officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (MSAR), is a special administrative region (SAR) of China PR, and situated on the Pearl River/Zhujiang River estuary on China’s south-eastern coastline. Having a population of 680,000 people living within an area of 32,9 square kilometres, it is the most densely populated region in the world. Originally a colony of Portugal having been leased to the Portuguese Empire in 1557, it remained in Portuguese control until 1999 when the city was transferred back to China. Today, it retains its SAR autonomous status within China under the “one country, two systems” philosophy, and is currently considered one of the gambling hotspots in the world with a gambling industry seven times larger than that produced by the more famous gambling mecca of Las Vegas. With Macau situated on the South China Sea, it has China PR to the north, whilst fellow SAR Hong Kong is located on the other side of the Zhujiang Estuary to the east.

Football has been played in Macau from the 1930s, if not earlier, with the Portuguese masters bringing football to the port city. Although, it is most likely Macanese football was more influenced by the blossoming football scene in nearby Hong Kong. It is with their neighbour that Macau have competed in a regular Interport Tournament, playing Hong Kong on a near annual basis since their first match in 1937 – two years before the Macau Football Association (MFA) was formed. In that initial match, Macau beat a Hong Kong select XI 2-1 at home.

For the vast majority of its history, Macau did not have a team competing in international tournaments as it was a direct colony of Portugal, meaning that any players who were at a good enough level, would instead have to play international football for A Seleção. It wouldn’t be until 1978 when Macau finally became a full member of both FIFA and the AFC, allowing the city to compete in international football tournaments. Their first qualifying campaign came in attempting to qualify for the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, playing their first competitive game against South Korea on Christmas Day 1978. Alas they would not be treated to a festive present as they were defeated 4-1. Nonetheless, their first competitive victory would occur four days later when they defeated the Philippines 2-1 in Manilla, although it sadly wasn’t enough to progress to the Asian Cup having also lost to China PR two days previously to finish third in the four-team group.

Unfortunately, Macau have not qualified for either a World Cup or Asian Cup in their history, and are yet to progress to the final round of the East Asian Football Championship (the EAFF Cup). However, Os Verdes have played in a couple of AFC-organised tournaments. Their first tournament was the inaugural AFC Challenge Cup held in Bangladesh in 2006, a tournament designed to help improve “developing associations” within Asian football. In a group containing Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan, the Macanese finished bottom of the table but did manage to earn themselves a 2-2 draw against Pakistan during the group phase. Their second tournament came ten years later in the 2016 AFC Solidarity Cup (the successor to the Challenge Cup), and they performed much better than their previous AFC tournament. Macau managed to win their group undefeated, before beating Brunei on penalties in the semi-finals, to reach the final against Nepal. Sadly, they were unable to lift the trophy losing out to a single goal to the Gorkhalis, but it was still a high point for Macanese football!

Macau will not be qualifying for either the 2022 World Cup or 2023 Asian Cup as they have already been eliminated from the combined qualifying campaign in the First Round. However, elimination was self-inflicted as despite winning their first leg against Sri Lanka, the Macanese FA controversially refused to allow their team to travel to the South Asian country for the second leg, thus incurring a 3-0 awarded defeat. This ensured their opponents progressed to the next round of qualifying instead of the Selecção do Lótus – something which will be discussed further in the blog…

Macau Representative Team

Q. Who is Macau’s best player of all-time?

Augusto Rocha

As Macau was an overseas colony of Portugal for a vast majority of its history, any players who were born in the city, and were good enough to play international football, could only play for the Portuguese national team. There have been only a few of Macanese-born players who have been good enough to play for A Seleção, and the most successful of these players was Augusto Rocha. Rocha was a midfielder or striker who earned himself seven caps for the Portuguese national team between 1958-1963. He started his career at Sporting de Macau, making his debut in 1953 before moving to the Portuguese mainland to play for one of the Três Grandes in Sporting Clube de Portugal from 1955 to 1956. However, Rocha would spend the vast majority of his career with Académica de Coimbra with whom he would play for between 1956 and 1971, and winning his seven caps whilst playing for the Briosa.

Chan Kin-seng

In terms of the Macanese representative team, one of the more successful players to play for Os Verdes has been the 36-year-old striker Chan Kin-seng, who is currently Macau’s all-time international top goalscorer. Having earned 29 caps between 2006 and 2013, he managed to score 17 goals, which equates to a ratio of 0.59 goals per game – an impressive strike rate. The highlight of his international career came in July 2012 when he scored a hat-trick against the Northern Mariana Islands in the 2013 EAFF Cup qualifiers. The striker has spent all of his career playing in Macau, starting at Monte Carlo in 2005, before moving to Ka I in 2008 and winning the league and cup twice during his three year stay there. He returned back to Os Canarinhos in 2012, and claimed his third championship medal with them in 2013, and is currently playing for Hang Sai in the Macau top flight.

Q. Who is currently the best player in the representative side?

Leong Ka-hang

One of the best Macanese players is the 28-year-old forward Leong Ka-hang, who is a free agent at the time of writing. He came into prominence whilst playing for the MFA Development league team, where he scored 38 goals in 32 appearances between 2009 and 2013, and was named as Macau Footballer of the Year at just 18 years old. He has subsequently played for Monte Carlo, before being one of a few current Macanese players to compete in another country’s league by moving to nearby Hong Kong and playing for Hongkonger sides Tai Po, Pegasus, and Lee Man. During his international career with Os Verdes, he has won 32 caps and scored 12 goals (at time of writing), and was named as the MVP in the 2016 AFC Solidarity Cup, where Macau reached the final of the tournament.

Chan Man

Another player worth mentioning is the 28-year-old right-back/midfielder Chan Man, who currently plays for Benfica de Macau. He has won 28 caps for the national side since 2011, and was named as the 2015-16 Macau Footballer of the Year after being involved with Benfica’s title victories in 2015 and 2016. His league form resulted in a big move to Portugal with SC Olhanense in 2017, but sadly his time in Europe only lasted a year after making no first-team appearances, returning back to Macau in 2018. Nonetheless, he is one of the first names on the Macau team sheet, and a dominant player on the right side for the Selecção do Lótus. More can be read about Chan Man in Offside.HK‘s article on him from 2018, which can be found at the following link:
https://www.offside.hk/macau/chan-man-the-player-who-had-to-go-to-work/

Carlos Leonel

Finally, the Madeira-born, 34-year-old striker Carlos Leonel needs mentioning as part of the Macau representative team. Despite only making 8 appearances for his adopted side since his debut in 2016, he has scored 4 goals already and made an attacking impact for the side. He is undoubtedly the Liga de Elite’s most lethal goal scorer since his move to the SAR in 2015, having won numerous annual golden boot awards whilst playing for Benfica de Macau during that time. Leonel has even finished as this year’s top goal scorer with an incredible tally of 35 goals for Benfica despite the club missing out on the league title. An incredible talent!

Q. Who could be considered as the most exciting up & coming talent from the special administrative region?

Ng Wa-keng

Two young players who may be worth observing are the 22-year-old twin brothers Ng Wa-seng and Ng Wa-keng, who both made their Macau debut in 2018. Seng is the more experienced of the two Ng players having played ten times for the Macau representative team. The full-back first started his career at the MFA Development league side in 2017 before moving across the River Zhujiang estuary to Hong Kong a year later to first play for Sun Hei, and then his current side Central & Western District R&SA. Whereas defensive midfielder Keng has player fewer games for the Macanese team by winning four caps with the side since 2018. He too started his career with the MFA Development side in 2017, before moving to Hang Sai in 2018, and plays for Benfica de Macau (at the time of writing) after moving there in 2020.

Cheong Hoi-san

Another player worth considering could be the 23-year-old central midfielder Cheong Hoi-san, who is a team-mate of Ng Wa-keng at Benfica. He has played thirteen times for Macau in his career so far, making his international debut in a 2-0 defeat to Hong Kong in 2015 as a 17-year-old player. Again, he started his career with the Development league side in 2015, which was followed by moves to top sides Ka I, Monte Carlo, and CPK, before making the switch to Os Encarnados this year.

Q. What is the current state/performance of the representative team?

Currently, it is difficult to determine the current state of the Macanese representative team as they haven’t played an international game since June 2019. However, the monumental fallout from their previous fixture was certainly highly controversial and created a lot of complaints from the Macanese supporters, sports media, and players.

Macau were drawn against Sri Lanka in the first round of Asian qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, and were favourites to go through to the next round of qualifying after they had drawn the lowest-ranked team in the draw. This confidence of progression to the second round for the first time was confirmed when Os Verdes won the first home leg of the tie by a single goal from centre-back Filipe Duarte. Alas, this is where things started to go sour for any hopes of qualifying progression. Despite assurances from the AFC and Sri Lanka that the venue would be safe, the Macau FA said they would not allow their team to travel to the country after a travel alert was issued by the Macanese authorities following a recent terror attack in the South Asian country. When Macau’s offer of playing the second leg was naturally refused by the Sri Lankan FA, they withdrew their team from the FIFA qualifiers, allowing the second leg to be declared a 3-0 victory to Sri Lanka for them to progress to the next round of World Cup (and 2023 Asian Cup) qualifying instead of Macau.

This decision by the Macau FA drew huge criticism from numerous parties, especially amongst its players. When the announcement was made to the players the day after the first leg, the players desperately tried to change the FA’s decision, such as declaring full responsibility for their own safety, threatening to quit the national team, and even asking the Macau government for help. Alas their pleas fell on deaf ears within the FA, and their decision was final. In a press conference, midfielder Cheong Hoi-san commented, “Losing this opportunity will affect Macau football. Many players want to be professional and play in Hong Kong and China. We have a dream, but now there was this decision. The safety plan was approved by FIFA and AFC. This decision shows that there is no future for Macau football.” Whilst striker Nicholas Torrão was more outspoken by saying, “I would like to know if AFC and FIFA would have the same attitude if it would involve countries like Japan or Korea. I am sure that the outcome would not be the same. We players understood the concerns of the Macau FA, but we still wanted to play anyway. This was a shocking decision, really sad. Football is nothing without players, and without the staff. Decisions should be made on the pitch and not in the offices.” [See Offside.HK‘s article for the quotes and further detail HERE]

With such a toxic atmosphere having been created following their previous international match, it’s probably safe to say that the supporters’ confidence with the Macau FA is at a low ebb currently. Having being unable to play another game due to a combination of withdrawing themselves from World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying, and then the COVID pandemic, the bad feelings produced from the decisions of summer 2019 probably hasn’t dissipated. Certainly, the decision could have hindered and potentially set back Macau football development for a considerable amount of time – quite frankly, the situation is not good!

Q. Looking at Macau’s international history, what has been the best game, result, or performance for the representative team?

The best performance from the Macau representative team was during the 2016 AFC Solidarity Cup. The tournament was created by the AFC for teams who had failed to qualify for the Asian Cup, and to replace the previous AFC Challenge Cup which was only open to “developing associations” within the AFC. The tournament started brilliantly for Macau as they managed to beat Mongolia (2-1) and Laos (4-1), before drawing with Sri Lanka (1-1), to top their group undefeated to progress to the knockout stage. In the semi-finals, they overcame Brunei 4-3 on penalties after drawing 1-1, with Leong Ka-hang scoring the equaliser on the 59th minute, to reach the inaugural final.

Sadly, Macau lost in the final by a single goal to Nepal, but their performance in the tournament convinced the AFC to invite both themselves and winners Nepal to re-enter the 2019 Asian Cup qualification after the withdrawal of Guam, and suspension of Kuwait, had created spaces in the qualifying phase. In addition, Leong Ka-hang was named as the tournament’s MVP due to his excellent performances throughout the competition. Striker Nicholas Torrão [33-year-old currently playing for champions CPK] top scored for Macau with four goals – scoring a brace against both Mongolia and Laos in the group stage.

Q. What is your favourite shirt from the Macanese representative team?

My favourite Macanese shirt would have to be the one used by the representative team around 2009-2010. Using the same shade of green as from the Macau flag as its base colour, the shirt has a forest green pattern on the front of the shirt, with white sides, and a golden trim around the shirt. A very nice looking shirt in my opinion, and I’m always a fan of international shirts that use the same shades of colours as its flag.

Further pictures of the Macau representative team shirt can be found at the following Football Shirt World link:
http://www.footballshirtworld.co.uk/blog/uncategorized/macau/

Macanese Domestic Football

Q. What is the Macanese football pyramid like?

At the time of writing, the Macanese football pyramid, which is separated from the Chinese football pyramid, has four levels:

  • Tier 1 – Liga de Elite
  • Tier 2 – Segunda Divisão
  • Tier 3 – Terceira Divisão
  • Tier 4 – Junior Divisão

The top flight of the Macanese football system is the Liga de Elite, previously known as the Campeonato da 1ª Divisão do Futebol. The semi-professional league was created in 1973 and usually runs from January to July of year, with most of the matches in the league being played at the Estádio Campo Desportivo due to a lack of available football fields in the densely populated city.

Currently there are ten teams who compete in the top flight, and they play each other twice throughout the league campaign. The winner of the league subsequently automatically qualifies for the AFC Cup Group Stage, with the league’s runners-up also qualifying for Asia’s secondary continental competition, but probably having to play a qualifying playoff prior to the group stage. The bottom two teams at the end of the season are automatically relegated to the Segunda Divisão, with the top two teams in the second tier replacing them in the top league.

Just like the Liga de Elite, the Segunda Divisão also has ten clubs competing in the league, with the bottom two clubs of the second tier getting relegated to the Terceira Divisão, which has twelve teams in its league. Finally the bottom tier is the Junior Divisão, which is curiously divided into twenty groups of four teams, and the clubs only play two halves of 35 minutes with 7-a-side teams. The top four clubs at this level are then promoted to the third tier, where they then have to convert to the normal formula of 11-a-side, 45-minute half matches.

The city’s knockout competition is the Taça de Macau, which was first organised in 1951.

Q. Which Macanese teams are historically the most successful?

Due to the lack of information of earlier seasons, these are the number of titles each club has won since 1984:

  • 9 titles: Lam Pak
  • 6 titles: Benfica de Macau
  • 5 titles: Monte Carlo
  • 4 titles: Hap Kuan
  • 3 titles: Ka I
  • 2 titles: Wa Seng, GD Artilheiros, Polícia de Segurança Pública, Chao Pak Kei
  • 1 title: Sporting Clube de Macau, Leng Ngan

Since 1984, the most successful Macanese club has been Lam Pak, who have won the league on nine occasions, winning their first in 1992 and their most recent in 2009. Sadly, the Blue-Whites are currently applying their trade in the Segunda Divisão after forfeiting their place in the top flight in 2014 due to lack of sponsors. Benfica de Macau, named in honour of their more illustrious Portuguese equivalents and adopting a similar badge and shirt colours, are the second-most successful club having won six titles. Benfica won five consecutive titles from 2014 to 2018, before adding a sixth in seven season in 2020. They are also the first-ever Macau side to compete in the AFC Group Stage in 2018, finishing second in the group but failing to progress to the knockout stage. CD Monte Carlo are the third-best side in the league’s history since 1984 having won five titles, with Os Canarinhos‘ first title coming in 2002, which was the start of three titles in a row, and their most recent championship win in 2013.

  • 4 cups: Benfica de Macau, Ka I
  • 1 cup: Polícia de Segurança Pública, Hoi Fan, Lam Pak, Chao Pak Kei, Ching Fung

Since 2007, the two most successful clubs in the Taça de Macau, and the only teams to have won multiple cups, have been Benfica and Ka I who have won the cup on four occasions each. Ka I, who have won the cup under the names of Windsor Arch Ka I and Tak Chun Ka I, won their first back-to-back cups in 2009 and 2010, and repeated the feat in 2015 and 2016. Benfica also won two consecutive cups in 2013 and 2014, before winning their third Taça in 2017. Their most recent cup victory came in 2020, when they won the Taça in a league format, rather than the usual knockout format.

Q. Who are currently the best teams in the SAR?

The 2021 Liga de Elite (as of 12th October 2021)
[IMAGE: Offside.HK Website]

In the delayed 2021 season (due to the COVID outbreak), Chao Pak Kei (CPK) have been crowned as the champions, winning their second title in the last three years and technically regaining their league title after the 2020 edition was cancelled. With one game remaining to be played (at the time of writing), they have achieved a 100% performance by winning all seventeen league games, scoring 112 goals, and conceding just 4 goals. The highlights of CPK’s season being the 12-0 and 14-0 victories over Casa de Portugal, as well as also putting 10+ goals past Monte Carlo and Cheng Fung. Benfica are guaranteed to finish to second place in the league and qualifying for the AFC Cup playoffs, whilst Ka I miss out on continental qualification by finishing in a secured third place in the Liga de Elite.

Useful Links

The links for the Associação de Futebol de Macau official social media channels can be found below:

In addition, there are a number of other Asian football websites or social media accounts that report on Macanese football. They can be found below:

So that completes the look at the Macanese representative team and its domestic league. If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com, or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

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