Paolo Di Canio

PDC's Hong Kong mission

by Stuart Vose

'Even when we have a friendly game I have a winning mentality'

Paolo Di Canio’s objective is clear ahead of his side’s trip to Hong Kong – to win the Barclays Asia Trophy.

Sunderland will fly out to the Far East towards the end of July to take part in the prestigious tournament, which also features Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and local side South China FC.

The Black Cats will face Spurs on Wednesday 24th July ahead of finals day on the following Saturday, and Di Canio has set clear goals for what he says is a “very important” tournament.

“I want to win every game,” the Italian told “Even when we have a friendly game I have a winning mentality, even when I play cards with my daughter I want to win every time. I want to upset her because I want to win. My mentality is to win every game.

“There are obvious priorities: the Barclays Premier League is more important than friendly games but only if we deliver this mentality can we take every competition seriously. So the Barclays Asia Trophy is very important because we are going to face the top sides and it’s the dream of every player – this is the mission: to play every game against a top side.

“The fact that we have the chance to do this in Hong Kong means only the country changes, not the desire, the commitment that we have to deliver on the field, so it’s a good opportunity. We want to win the tournament and we will do everything we can.”

Di Canio also says the trip will provide his squad with a valuable bonding opportunity as well as a chance for him to get his point across on the training field.

Togetherness and spirit is very much part of the Italian’s philosophy – something he plans to drill home during the “crucial” pre-season schedule.

“My primary objective is to be the team that will fight every single game together, so for this we have to spend as much as we can the time together to bond and to become a very united team,” he said.

“I want to deliver my message in the way we want to play – the tactical strategy – to deliver a clear identity in the way we want to play, and this period can help me a lot because we have the chance to stay all day together.

“We can do double sessions, then some friendly games and when something goes wrong I can have a chat with them straight away rather than when you are during the season, after the training session they run away.

“This is a very important period for every coach because the first input, the first period, the first months are crucial and those two months can decide the outcome and the destiny of the season.”

The tournament has proved extremely popular amongst locals with ticket sales going well, and Di Canio says the interest surrounding the fixtures is something to cherish.

 “To have this experience where you can meet people far away from your country and they are mad for them that can make them understand and realise how lucky they are,” he explained.

“They should already think they are very lucky but to think that you are a well-known person even in China is an amazing thing. Only when you test it can you understand in reality what is going on, so it will be a very good experience for them.”