Kitchee through to AFC Cup semi-final
Hong Kong champion’s Kitchee endured unrelenting pressure from Vietnamese side Vissai Ninh Binh and a 1-0 home loss to still progress 4-3 over the two legged quarter-finals of the AFC Asia Cup. Cheered on by a near capacity crowd in the enclosed Mongkok stadium and holding onto a 4-2 away win, Kitchee held off Ninh Binh who were intent on bringing the game to Kitchee and score the three goals they required to progress. The game had been overshadowed by the ugly face of corruption with Ninh Binh’s progress being deemed remarkable given a match fixing scandal which has ruined the club’s reputation and has seen about nine senior players arrested or given suspended jail sentences. Taking the place of the senior players, have been spirited youngsters who have exceeded all expectations and simply making the AFC Cup quarter-finals has been an achievement in itself.
Vissai Ninh Binh had a glimmer of hope after the Nigerian Suleiman Oladoja side footed the ball gently into the net in the 28th minute after the ball bounced back off a post. In the 44th minute, Oladoja nearly had a second but smashed his shot off the bar with no one able to follow the rebound. Kitchee soaked up the pressure and broke away on counterattacks when they could but they did well to stave off the visitor’s high tempo game and Ninh Binh were urged to attack at every possible moment by their management team. In the second half, Kitchee’s Lam Ka-Wai and Jorge Tarre came close to extending Kitchee’s lead with Lam seeing his chip saved in the 67th minute and Tarre’s header crashing onto the bar in the 84th minute. The Kitchee fans were fervent in their support and the never ending drums and chants enhanced the atmosphere no end.
Kitchee will now play their semi-final first and second legs on September 16th and 30th respectively. The second leg will be played at Hong Kong Stadium and if the crowds decide to come out in force to support Kitchee as they did for South China whom reached the same stage of the competition in 2009 then expect a rare full house.
Argentina Tickets On Sale to the Public
In other news, tickets have gone on sale for the much-hyped visit of Argentina who will play the Hong Kong national side on October 14th. With the Hong Kong Football Association celebrating its one hundredth anniversary, it is definitely pulling out the stops to make it a party to remember with the guests being the powerhouse Argentina national side.
The cost of bringing the world cup runners-up to Hong Kong is immense and this has been reflected in the ticket prices which reach a staggering HKD$1,800 (USD$232) for the best seats in the main lower tier stands. The cheapest tickets have been priced at HKD$490 (USD$63). There is no doubt that the seats will be filled as the prospect of seeing global superstar Messi is a huge incentive for many Hong Kong football fans who have been starved of quality players and teams for years; though the prices may still be too high for many people who may opt not to attend. A full capacity Hong Kong stadium with the biggest names in football would make for a memorable evening.
New Premier League Sponsor found
Meanwhile. the long search for a new sponsor for Hong Kong’s new premier league is now over with BOC Group Life Assurance stepping up and providing the financial clout which will enable the much vaunted and highly anticipated Premier League to kick off in September. Speculation has been rife about whom the title sponsors would be and after long drawn out talks, a solution has been found. The opening fixtures have also been announced and the first set of games will kick off in early September. The jury has been out on the new Hong Kong premier league so local fans will be able to make their own judgement very soon.
Hong Kong Premier League Opening Fixtures decided:
Kitchee vs Wofoo Tai Po, Mongkok Stadium
I-Sky Yuen Long vs Rangers, Yuen Long Stadium
Christopher KL Lau is the Hong Kong Correspondent for Wildeast Football.
All pictures courtesy of Chris K L Lau
He has figured out twitter and can be found here: https://twitter.com/Chris_KL_Lau
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