Deja Vu was the order of the day at Hong Kong Stadium as Kitchee yet again defeated Tai Po 2-1 to lift a domestic cup and in turn, clinch the domestic treble.
In baking hot conditions, Tai Po pushed Kitchee all the way and yet again, fell just short despite all efforts to taste their second cup final defeat in consecutive weeks. With their domestic league title, the Sapling Cup and the FA Cup, Kitchee have now earned a well deserved treble and their total superiority of the local game is without question.
The goals came late with Alex Akande and Jared Lum scoring in the ’73 and ’77 minutes respectively. This late goal spurt spurred Tai Po into a response and yet again it was too late as Igor Sartori’s goal in the ’82 minute was the end of the scoring. Tai Po have had a fantastic season and yet their two cup finals defeats will be a huge blow to morale and will take a while to psychologically overcome.
For all Kitchee’s joy at winning the treble, the very low crowd for the FA Cup final was a dampener. The extremely hot weather and two back to back cup finals with the same teams seemed to have diminished any interest for many fans in attending the game. James Legge, co-host of the Hong Kong football Podcast , gave his views on the low crowd numbers and if Kitchee’s continued winning streak had anything to do with fans not coming out in force.
“It seems like Kitchee’s massive dominance over the past two seasons is having an impact on people’s interest, with quite a poor attendance at the final. Maybe the heat, and the fact that the same two sides met in the Sapling Cup final a week earlier, also had an effect. The result, and even the manner of the win, coming late on, was very unsurprising.”
Legge also went onto comment on Tai Po’s recent improvement to reach two cup finals and finish second in the league and he stated that Tai Po have done well though Kitchee would continue to dominate.
“I think Tai Po’s big worry is keeping their squad together. Players like Wong Wai, Tan Chun-lok and Igor Sartori could all be attractive to bigger clubs. But even if they could keep them, they still finished 13 points behind Kitchee. I don’t see any sign of the gap narrowing substantially next season.”
A sense of Deja Vu at Hong Kong stadium and unless other team’s raise their game then next season could one long season of ‘Deja Vu’ with the same results in all competitions.
“Only One Team in Hong Kong?”
For all the fans whom grumble at the lack of competition in Hong Kong and Kitchee’s dominance; in a thought, Kitchee can only beat what is in-front of them and Kitchee have proven themselves to be a well run and professional organization. Often what happens off the pitch can also mimic and eclipse what happens on the field and results on and off the field are a gauge for what can be deemed a well-run and functional organization. Kitchee have evolved and developed with the modern game and it could be said that many of their league opponents have not and are regressing; forever entrenched and stuck in the past and run in an archaic and dis-functional manner.
Organisational chaos and mismanagement can stunt any team’s performance regardless of how talented the players are and how much money is thrown at a problem to seek a quick solution. Kitchee’s domestic opponents will have to improve and raise their standards and their game in order to catch up with them otherwise, we can expect several more years of Kitchee dominance.
Kitchee’s domestic domination also leaves a conundrum for them as, at the moment in time, they are too good for Hong Kong and to raise their standards even further, they have to take on superior opponents on a more regular basis and aside from continental competition; the chances to take on high level opposition are few and far between. Kitchee will have to navigate the perils and pitfalls of the Asian Champions league qualifiers in order to reach the group stages of the next competition though this is not easy. Kitchee are too good for Hong Kong yet rarely have the chance to reach the next level in terms of play due to the lack of solid competition.
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