The magic of the FA cup is alive and well in Hong Kong. Eastern AA, one of the more storied and traditional names of Hong Kong football, are FA Cup champions and Kitchee’s dream of a treble are over.
Hong Kong FA Cup Final 2014
Giovane Da Silva 120′
Attendance : 4383
The underdogs upset the form book and defeated overwhelming favorites Kitchee 1-0 which also ended Kitchee’s impressive run of consecutive FA cup titles. A drab game was settled in the most dramatic of circumstances with Giovane Da Silva’s last minute extra time goal.
The game was played in extremely muggy conditions and the energy sapping heat made for a low tempo game and chances were few and far between with both teams having half chances throughout the match. In the late second half, Eastern had a few attempts from distance with Diego Moreira and Cheng Siu-Wai going close.
The game began to swing when Kitchee’s Juan Carlos Rodriguez Belencoso was sent off for a second yellow card in normal time injury-time; his late challenge was beyond dispute and a red was shown and he had to run the gauntlet of Eastern fans as he headed back to the changing rooms.
Just after Belencoso’s dismissal, Eastern could have won the game when Manoel Santos somehow contrived to blast his shot over the Kitchee bar from point-blank range. It was an instance where scoring would have been easier than missing. If Eastern had lost the game then it would have been a contentious talking point.
With a game low in entertainment and excitement lurching towards a penalty shoot-out, with no time left on the clock, Eastern’s Giovane Da Silva connected to a Leung Chi Wing’s cross and his header bounced downwards into the goal and sparked a frenzy of celebrations and joy amongst Eastern’s players, management and fans which lasted for several minutes. Once the dust had settled, Kitchee’s players knew that there was literally no time to get themselves back into the game.; the game was up and upon the final whistle, Eastern’s party began.
Extra time came and still nothing could separate the two sides until a speculative cross was met by at the far post by Giovane Da Silva. Eastern had the larger fan contingent and out sang and chanted their Kitchee counterparts for the duration of the game, while they should be congratulated for providing free shirts and flags to help build up the atmosphere within the stadium. The move follows a recent trend whereby clubs have attempted to build a greater sense of community and belonging with their fan base.
The FA Cup win is crucial for Eastern as they are the not the powerhouses they were in the nineties but their fans have remained loyal throughout the tougher years. Today, no one would begrudge their success. Hopefully, this will spark Eastern’s ascent back to the top of Hong Kong football. For the past decade ,they have been the perennial sleeping giant who have been somewhat reluctant to awaken from their slumber. A compelling and dramatic ending to a rather dreary match but for the Eastern contingent, nothing but unparalleled joy and happiness.
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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