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Sell-out crowd sees Kitchee crowned Hong Kong champions in thrilling winner-takes all finale

Photo by Christopher KL Lau

In a thrilling title decider on the last day of the season, Kitchee leapfrogged leaders Eastern to win the Hong Kong Premier League title with a thumping 4-1 victory in front of a full house at Mongkok stadium.

On a sun drenched afternoon the “Blue Wave” of Kitchee came out on top after a hat-trick from striker Sandro with Hungarian midfielder, Vadocz also amongst the goals. For most of the season, Kitchee have chased  front running Eastern in the league and have remarkably won every league game since February and the momentum carried Kitchee across the line with a final tally of 51 points whilst Eastern ended up with 49 points after enduring their first defeat of the season.

The season is not over for both sides with Kitchee having the chance to enjoy more silverware when they take on an inconsistent South China in the FA cup final this coming weekend. Eastern will attempt to salvage their season by taking part in the playoffs with Southern, South China and Yuen Long. The winner of this mini competition will gain a place in the Asian Champions league qualifiers.

There is the real danger that Eastern could finish the domestic season empty-handed. After a tough introduction to the ACL group stages, if Eastern do not prevail in the season playoffs then they will not feature in continental football next season. After a deflating title, Chan Yuen Ting will have to motivate her team to a final end of season push.

Eastern’s ACL group games have exhausted them. Photo: Ryan Kam

Through their grit and resilience in chasing Eastern throughout the season until the final day, Kitchee deserve to be champions. At the end of the game, Sandro of Kitchee, shared his delight in scoring a hat-trick which also saw him lift the golden boot for the season.

“I feel very happy to score the goals and to be champions. It was amazing. We knew we could catch up step by step and we knew it would not be easy.”

Mark Sutcliffe, head of the HKFA, was pleased with the end of season drama as a great advertisement for Hong Kong football.

“It is fantastic that there is a full house. It is just great the way that the fixtures have worked out so the last game of the season is all to play for.  It was predicted that this was going to happen a few weeks ago and it was pretty obvious looking at the fixtures that this was going to happen and all the tickets are sold out before the game kicked off and I cant remember the last time that happened in domestic football and it was a great game and congratulations to Kitchee and hope they do well in the champions league next season.”

Stephen Tucker, HKFC First Team Analyst and Academy Coach, who has analysed many HKPL games up close offered his opinion on the result and Kitchee’s dynamic style of play.

“You have to give credit to Eastern AA and Chan Yuen Ting for taking it to the last game of the season but I’m not surprised Kitchee have won the league. Not only did Kitchee beat Eastern AA in the league but nobody can match Kitchee’s build up play through the thirds, and along with Kwoon Chung Southern, who have had an excellent season, they are almost impossible to catch on the counter attack. Kitchee throughly deserve to be Champions.”

The football is far from over in Hong Kong  with a visit from Tottenham Hotspur and the EPL Asia trophy all still on the horizon.

Tottenham Hotspur to play Kitchee on May 26 at Hong Kong Stadium

English premier league high fliers, Tottenham Hotspur, will play local champions Kitchee at Hong Kong stadium on May 26th at 8pm. This means players such as Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris will be making an appearance at what should be a packed out Hong Kong stadium. At a special announcement event, Spurs legend, Ledley King said he was looking forward to the Kitchee game:

Ledley King with Brian Leung (HKFA) and Ken Ng (Kitchee). Photo: Chris KL Lau

“Many teams have tried this season but we (Spurs) are a really difficult team to beat but both teams (Kitchee and Spurs) will get a lot out of the experience. Win, lose or draw.”

King also mentioned Spurs great run of form in the past few years:

“In the last few years, we (Spurs) have been the most consistent team and I think we are on the verge of being the strongest team in the Premier league and we have a young team which is only going to get stronger so it is very exciting times at the moment with a new stadium and like I said, I feel this is a team which is going to win the league very soon so I am very happy at the moment and this is an important step for us for us to finish above Arsenal and we can try to achieve our goal of winning cups and the league. This is a great start and hopefully continue in the future.”

Tickets will range from HKD330 to HKD680.

Stars Headed for Soccer Sevens 2017

Amy stars and former EPL legends are coming to HK as HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens debutants playonPROS have confirmed an all-star squad for this month’s Masters Tournament with Emile Heskey, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mikael Silvestre, David James and Colin Hendry set to head to Hong Kong Football Club.

Regi Blinker, Des Walker, Phil Babb, Paul Dickov, Lee Hendrie and Michael Hughes complete playonPROS’ squad, which is compiled entirely of former internationals, for the May 26-28 annual seven-a-side tournament as they make their first-ever appearance at an event.

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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