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.…
In one of the most enthralling Hong Kong matches in a long time, Eastern won a high-octane and borderline ‘bonkers’ Canbo Senior Shield final 3-2 against a Kitchee side that must be getting sick of the sight of Eastern in major cup finals.
This engrossing game was marred by some very dubious and contentious officiating which enraged the bulk of the Kitchee team who debated with the officials long after final whistle was blown whilst in the background the Eastern players celebrated in delirious fashion as they toasted their second major cup triumph within a calendar year (FA Cup in 2014). Most cup finals can be mundane and tedious affairs but this was anything but as the flow of the game swung several times as both sides were desperate to win.
Eastern played a high pressing game and were rewarded in the 11th minute when Miroslav Saric pounced on a defensive mistake to drive home the ball into the left hand corner of the goal in-front of the north stand. Kitchee whom were pegged back for most of the game drew level on the 38th minute when speedster Christian Annan jinxed and drove past several defenders on the left wing to pull his cross back for Juan Belencoso to poke home. Kitchee could have had another but for an incredible refereeing decision which saw a yellow card given to an Eastern defender for what should have been a straight red for a professional foul; the resulting free-kick was not converted and the two teams went in at half-time at 1-1.
In the 65th minute, Eastern again took a deserved lead when Liang Zicheng fired a shot across goal which was palmed away by the Kitchee goalkeeper Guo Jianqiao into the path of Dylan Macallister who tapped the ball home from a few yards. Eastern were on 2-1 up and the Eastern fans were sent into throes of delirium and ecstasy!
Eastern put the game beyond doubt when another Kitchee defensive mistake was punished in the 83rd minute by Saric who rounded the keeper and slotted home. The game was beyond the reach of Kitchee now. They had a glimmer of hope in stoppage time when Jorge Tarres volleyed nicely home past the reach of Eastern keeper Yapp Hung Fai but it was too little too late as the five minutes of extra dwindled away.
A last minute drive from Kitchee hit the side netting and the game was all but lost. A delight to witness and watch unless you were in anyway connected to Kitchee. Eastern, for so long in the doldrums, are flying again and sitting nicely on top of the Hong Kong Premier League as well; a fantastic advertisement for Hong Kong football.
Guangdong Win China’s “Derby of the South” Against Bitter Rivals Hong Kong
With the rise of the Chinese Super League, the annual Hong Kong -Guangdong has developed a more competitive edge with the two neighbours out to put the ‘boot’ literally into each other. The two legged affair was definitely an extremely feisty affair as regional pride was up for grabs. The first leg in Guangdong was a tight and cagey match with both sides weighing each other up. Hong Kong were at full strength while Guangdong had a combination of players from their chinese super league teams (who were not on international duty). A nicely worked goal in the second half of the game saw Guangdong take a slim 1-0 lead to Hong Kong.
The return leg in Hong Kong saw the highly skilled Guangdong side hold off a spirited and energetic Hong Kong backed by a passionate home support whom occasionally exchanged verbal barbs with an impressive number of away fans who came down to Mong Kok from across the border.
Hong Kong’s attack lacked any form of true bite and penetration so the Guangdong keeper had very little to do for most of the game. Guangdong had the chance to extend their lead in the last few minutes when striker Yang Chaoseng nicked the ball off Hong Kong keeper Wang Zhengpeng but his soft shot hit the post and tricked back across goal. Guangdong held out for the remaining time and the game ended 0-0 (0-1) so the visitors took home the trophy and more importantly, regional pride.
Struggling South China Ring in the Changes.
Struggling giants South China have rung in the changes over the new year period with a change in management and new signings. Argentine Mario Gomez is now in charge of Hong Kong’s most popular team after the sudden sacking of the popular Yeung Ching-kwong. South China’s new signings include Australian striker Daniel McBreen from Shanghai East Asia and taking Michael Campion on loan from Sun Pegasus.
New York Cosmos to Play South China Over Chinese New Year in Hong Kong
The New York Cosmos, commonly associated with class and glamour, will roll into Hong Kong on February 18th to play a friendly match against South China. The last time the Cosmos were in Hong Kong was in 1979 when they defeated a Hong Kong all-stars team 6-0. The star quality should be in the form of Raul who will lead the Cosmos attack against Hong Kong’s most popular team.
All pictures courtesy of Chris KL Lau
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