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Hong Kong Round Up: Disappointingly Low Crowd for Top of the Table Clash

Hong Kong correspondent Christopher KL Lau once again brings his regular round-up of all the very latest news, developments and other footballing points of interest from the SAR.…

Kitchee fightback to draw 2-2

South China take the lead - By JRP Borthwick

South China take the lead – By JRP Borthwick

In most countries, a top of the table clash between the previous league champions (Kitchee) and the best supported club (South China) would draw a full house but sadly Hong Kong football is unique in the sense that crowds will still stay away; this is not a guarantee but a common occurrence. With attendances booming right across the border in the Chinese Super League, a paltry 2289 people turned up for what was a relatively entertaining match. The endless empty seats and smattering of fans in the best seats was simply depressing to see but not a real surprise; Hong Kong football has been on the downward spiral for many years and while the newly formed Premier League will lead to a greater degree of professionalism, the main issue is to draw the fans back to the stadiums.

Hong Kong definitely is a city which loves its football but a proper fan culture has never truly permeated into society and the predicament can only get worse. Many of the top teams have launched incredibly creative tech and media savvy campaigns to draw a new generation of fans and this has lead to a greater degree of engagement but the core issue is to get more bums on seats; Hong Kong is a city of many distractions and on this pleasant Sunday afternoon, potential attendees clearly had better things to do and this was reflected in the vast swaths of empty seats.

The match itself was marked by a remarkable comeback from a resilient Kitchee side which were at one point trailing 2-0 with the clock ticking away. Midfielder Leung Chun Pong smashed home a 20 yard drive to give South China a 1-0 lead. The ‘Caroliners’ extended their lead in the 51st minute when the imposing figure of striker, Chan Wai-Ho nodded home a free kick floated in from Santos on the edge of the box.

Kitchee looked were surprising off form for a majority of the match and it definitely looked like a comeback was beyond their reach but football is a game of endless possibilities and Kitchee began their dramatic comeback in the 71st minute with Juan Belencoso poking home a Tarres pass.

The momentum of the game, so long with South China, swung back towards Kitchee and they got their deserved equalizer in the 87th minute when Lam Ka-Wai swung in a gorgeous free-kick to level the game at 2-2. The Kitchee fans urged their side forward and to grab a winner against the punch drunk South China but the game ended 2-2 with the draw doing nothing in terms of the two side’s title ambitions.

Hong Kong Fail to Qualify for the 2015 EAFF Cup finals

20141119cHong Kong chances of qualifying for the 2015 EAFF Cup finals ended in disappointment as the team limped to a 0-0 draw with Guam in their final group match. A loss (2-1 against North Korea) in their first game against favorites North Korea made Hong Kong’s slim chance of qualifying a mountain to climb though there was a glimmer of hope when they beat Chinese Taipei 1-0. All that good work was undone with a 0-0 draw with Guam, a game that they were expected to win easily. Hong Kong ended up second with four points with North Korea qualifying as group winners.

 All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau, JRP Borthwick and the HKFA

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Christopher KL Lau was born in England and grew up in both England and Hong Kong, and has a background in media, education and non-profits. He also is a freelance writer / photographer and has written for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers around the world on many subjects ranging from the arts to travel. Chris is passionate about sports and its place in society and is keen to promote both Hong Kong and Chinese football to a wider audience.

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