Hong Kong correspondent Christopher KL Lau brings a regular round-up of latest news and developments and other footballing points of interest from the SAR.
Kitchee Squander Golden Chance To Reach AFC Cup Final
Kitchee’s dream run to the AFC Cup Semi-finals is now over. With the away goal, a capacity crowd and home advantage, Kitchee were clearly favorites in the second leg of the semi-finals yet nerves clearly got the better of them and they threw away all hopes after conceding two soft goals within the first nine minutes of the first half. From there on they had to constantly chase the game to no avail.
Abril weathered the frenzied atmosphere to hold onto their lead. The Iraqis settled much faster than the home team and their difficult task ahead was made easier on the 3rd minute when they were awarded a free-kick from twenty yards out which Ali Atiyah converted. The shot was on target but should have been saved and slipped in between the post and Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng. This made it 1-2 to Abril. The visitors took advantage of Kitchee’s lack of composure and unease and made it a two-goal lead on the 9th minute when Amjed Radhi’s looping header nestled into the side of the net. Kitchee now had the momental task of overhauling the two goal deficit and scoring three goals due to the away goals rule. Kitchee slowly recovered from this incredible set back and regained their composure and resorted back to their well known quick passing game. Both sides had close half chances as the game went on but Abril were still in control with their excellent technical skills and close passing game.
The second half saw a momentum shift with Kitchee taking the game to Abril and trying to claw back their dignity and pride and even stage one of the greatest comebacks of all time! Kitchee’s Tarres had a chance in the 48th minute with his low drive and shot which was well saved by the Abril keeper Jalal Hachim. In the 68th minute, a Lo Ka Wai corner caused confusion in the box and Gao Wen was first on hand to poke the ball home. It was now 1-2 on the night. The crowd urged Kitchee team forward and each corner, free kick and attack was met with heightened expectations. Hachim pulled off another great save on the 72nd minute when he clawed away Xu Deshuai’s diving header. As the game progressed, Kitchee pressed forward and left wide open spaces to be exploited but they defended resolutely. Kitchee’s Jang Kyungjin had his injury time header cleared off the line and the game ended with all players slumping to the ground in exhaustion. It was a stirring fightback but too little too late.
Abril have made to the the AFC cup final where they will now play Al Qadsia in the final. Sports and politics always intertwine so there were several banners of support for the Hong Kong protests and a period of applause from some sections of the crowd in acknowledgement of the current situation in the city. Kitchee played some nice football through the group and knock out stages and will no doubt bounce back from this disappointment.
Hong Kong Knocked Out of the Asian Games
Hong Kong strong run to the Asian games (Incheon) knock out stages is over after a comprehensive defeat to South Korea. Lee Yong-Jae, Park Coo-Ho and Kim Jin-Su all got on the score sheet in an one sided game. Hong Kong were a shadow of the side they were in the group stages where they defeated Bangladesh, Afghanistan and drew with a strong Uzbekistan team. Hong Kong’s highlight in the tournament was their equalizer against Uzbekistan scored by Philip Chan.
Hong Kong Premier League Continues:
The Hong Kong Premier League is still in its early days and Sun Pegasus are the early pace setters with two wins out of two over I Sky Yuen Long and Wong Tai Sin. Many games have been delayed or postponed due to Hong Kong’s involvement in the Asian games. Normal fixtures will resume in October.
All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau (follow him on https://twitter.com/Chris_KL_Lau)
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