The Hong Kong champions, Kitchee, have rounded off their unbeaten league season with a comprehensive 4-1 win over a youthful Yokohama FC (HK) side.
The champion’s last game of the season literally ended up being a damp squib as the rain poured down relentlessly and to make the pitch practically unplayable. This resulted in players slipping and sliding around unnecessary which made for sometimes dangerous play but provided some high entertainment for the crowd.
Hong Kong Division 1- Final Round
Diego Cascon 43′
Christian Annan 45′, 66′
Robson Leung 78′
Yokohama FC (HK) 1 Yoshitake Tsuyoshi 43′
With the title secured, Kitchee could have eased off and taken their foot off the proverbial gas but the desire to remain unbeaten and end the season on a high meant they pressed forward with a great sense of professionalism. The wet conditions proved to be fatal for Yokohama FC (HK) whom defended with resolute discipline.
Despite Yokohama FC (HK)’s valiant efforts, Kitchee took the lead. Kitchee’s Diego Cascon saw his close range drive brilliantly parried by Yokohama goalkeeper, Taiki Murai but the ball rebounded to Christian Annan who was cut down for a penalty. Yokohama players were livid as conditions made the surface so slippery that any contact, even the lightest, could result in a fall. The referee did not change his mind and Cason converted the penalty with ease in the 26th minute.
In the 43rd minute, Yokohama FC (HK) were rewarded for their enthusiastic and steadfast play with a goal when Tsuyoshi Yoshitake leapt highest to connect to an in-swinging corner kick. His header eluded everyone and the game was level at 1-1. Just before half-time, Kitchee quickly re-established their lead in the 45th minute when Christian Annan slotted the ball home to make the score 2-1. It was hard not to feel some sympathy for the Yokohama FC (HK) players whom worked relentlessly to pull themselves back into the game.
Yokohama returned to the field still energized and pumped up and only great goalkeeping from Guo Jianqiao kept Kitchee in the game, most notably in the 51st minute when he denied Tsuyoshi Yoshitake. Kitchee sealed the game when Christian Annan fired home another goal in the 66th minute while Robson Leung added another in the 78th minute. Kitchee had accomplished the rare feat of going through an entire league campaign unbeaten. Despite the score, Yokohama FC (HK) were by no means push-overs and the result in no way reflected the admirable fight that the underdogs put up. A majority of their players are very young so this season has been a vital learning experience.
Kitchee rounded off their remarkable season with a total of 15 wins and 3 draws and a positive goal difference of 35. Yokohama FC (HK) side ended the season bottom of the league with 11 points but gained vital experience against the more established senior sides. Yokohama FC (HK) do have the honor of having one of Hong Kong’s top scorers in their ranks with Kenji Fukuda netting a total of 11 goals throughout the season.
The win left a buoyant Kitchee in the right frame of mind in what is probably the biggest week in their history. Kitchee are still on course for an unique treble with an AFC Cup knock out match on Wednesday (May 14th) and the Hong Kong FA Cup Final against Eastern Salon FC next Sunday (May 18th). Kitchee have dominated the majority of the games they gave played with a free flowing, attractive style of football and are worthy league champions.
All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau.
Christopher KL Lau is the Hong Kong Correspondent for Wildeast Football. He has figured out twitter and can be found here: https://twitter.com/Chris_KL_Lau
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