Hong Kong Round Up: Kitchee Slowly Edging to the Top of the League
Hong Kong correspondent Christopher KL Lau brings his regular round-up of all the very latest news, developments and other footballing points of interest from the SAR.…
Kitchee Edge Out Stumbling Sun Pegasus
With only nine teams in the Hong Kong Premier League, a sense of familiarity is beginning to take shape as fans and teams are becoming used to the same sides taking to the field of play every other week. Familiarity, in sports, can often breed boredom or contempt; it could also breed a greater sense of competition and intensity between the participants. One would hope for the latter and this was definitely the case for the top of the table clash between league leaders Sun Pegasus and last year’s champions Kitchee.
In what was a tight contest which resembled two heavyweight boxers sparring with each other, a defensive error in the 18th minute was all that separated the sides as an under hit pass from a Sun Pegasus defender meant Kitchee’s Juan Belencoso could pounce on the stray loose ball and curl it home past the despairing dive of the Sun Pegasus keeper Jerrad Tyson. Tight, intense and with both teams giving little, away, this result now means that Sun Pegasus’s spectacular start and thus lead is now beginning to slip away as the other contenders play catch-up.
Elsewhere in the league, sleeping giants Eastern have seemingly woken up from their decade long slumber and are rightly fully claiming their position back at the top of Hong Kong football. After three win in a row, including a 7-1 win over Wofoo Tai Po, they are now second behind Sun Pegasus with two games in hand while Kitchee have three games on hand on the league leaders. There maybe only nine teams in the Hong Kong Premier league but it looks like the top few will continually swap positions and challenge right down to the wire.
Asian Champions League and AFC Cup Draw complete for the Hong Kong Teams.
No sooner as it seems that the previous competition has ended that the whole frenzy of the Asian Champions League and the AFC Cup 2015 will begin again. Hong Kong’s top teams will of course be in the thick of things with Kitchee and South China both being drawn from the hat. South China have been drawn into Group G of the AFC Cup and will take on Myanmmar champions Yadanarbon (Possibly Yangon if the former qualify for the champions league), Global of the Phillipines and Pahang of Malaysia.
League champions and AFC Cup 2014 semi-finalists Kitchee have the chance to join the upper tier of Asian football by way of direct second round entry in the Asian Champions league qualifying play-offs. Here, they will face Thai champions Chonburi and the winners will go onto play the eventual winners of the Japanese Emperor’s Cup final.
Finally, if Kitchee are able to navigate such a tricky path, they will be drawn in Group E with Jeonbok Hyundai Motors (South Korea), Shandong (China) and Becamex Binh Duoung (Vietnam). Should Kitchee struggle and fail to overcome these intimidating challenges then they will revert back to the AFC cup where they will face East Bengal (India), Johor / Selangor (Malaysia) and Balestier of Singapore. Hong Kong football fans have long been starved of top quality football so wait with bated breathe to see if Kitchee can rise to the occasion and deliver Asian Champions League football to the city.
All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau
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Author: Christopher Lau
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.