41st Hong Kong – Guangdong Challenge Cup
Hong Kong: 4
Matt Orr ’22, Leung Nok Hang ’50 , Yuen Chun Sing ’56 , Yue Tze Nam ’71
At a fervent Hong Kong stadium, interim manager, Kenneth Kwok inspired his young Hong Kong side to a blood and thunder 4-0 victory over fierce rivals, Guangdong province, in the second leg of the 41st Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup. The stunning home performance saw Hong Kong take the title 5-2 overall after two legs and the young Hong Kong, made up of mainly the under 23 squad, deserved a great deal of plaudits.
This annual game pretty much constitutes a local derby for Cantonese bragging rights; the game was played at an electric pace as Hong Kong sought to score goals from the start as the home side had lost the first leg 2-1
After a shaky start for both teams as they sough to settle, it was Guangdong who looked the more dangerous from the start though Hong Kong slowly found their style and rhythm. Hong Kong took the lead through Matthew Orr on the 22nd minute, as he tapped the ball home from close range, after a flick on from a free-kick. This goal gave Hong Kong greater confidence as they entered the second half.
Urged on by the home crowd, Hong Kong kept pressing forward and Leung Nok-Hang nodded home a header in the 51st minute to make it 2-0. A penalty award in the 56th minute saw Yuen Chun-Sing cooly slot home to give Hong Kong some breathing space. A melee saw one player sent off from the Hong Kong team as well as the Guangdong keeper. Once the dust settled, the game was killed off by a stunning volley from Yue Tsz-Lam which gave Hong Kong a four goal lead on the night and a 5-2 overall advantage over two legs.
Hong Kong stadium witnessed a a frenetic and highly charged game which was end to end and with no shortage of incident. Local football writer, Patrick Au Yeung, gave his views on the game.
“The Hong Kong team started the new year well by winning the traditional Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup. Even more encouraging is that the final score of the 4-0 second-leg home win is a rarity, especially as squad is based around Under 23 players who lack experience when compared to the opposition.”
“The selection made by interim head coach, Kenneth Kwok, were determined to fight and they outplayed their rivals throughout the ninety minutes to prove they could be on the main stage; some of their names may even be unfamiliar to local fans here. Some of the players are hardly given the chance to showcase themselves locally, their only chance to be seen in top-flight is through the Sapling Cup where a minimum of two U22 players are obligated to be on the field during the whole game. Overall, a thumbs up for Hong Kong football. Now fans will be eager to see their performances in the Asian Games qualifiers later this year.”
Teddy Farham, a Newcastle United fan who lives in Hong Kong, gave his views on a pulsating end to end game.
“It was an exciting game and there were a lot of opportunities. Hong Kong had more opportunities than Guangdong especially in the second half. The momentum grew for Hong Kong and Hong Kong took advantage of it and Guangdong pushed back in the second half. Hong Kong deserved it as they had the energy and drive and they seemed more passionate and the fans helped them a lot. It was an incredibly exciting game and it was a local derby and it seemed there was a lot more at stake.”
The Hong Kong women’s team battled hard for a credible 2-2 draw in the second leg of their cup tie, though lost overall, over the two legs. The goals for the Hong Kong women’s team were scored by Yiu Hei Man and Poon Ka Ka.
Ricardo Rambo, the Hong Kong women’s manager, gave his thoughts on the positive Hong Kong results for both the mens and women’s teams.
“This past Wednesday, for Hong Kong football, was a very good day for all. There was some improvement in terms of Hong Kong women’s football with four goals against the Guangdong Women’s side over two matches.”
“We are still working hard to develop the new young girls and it is looking bright for the future. The good work continued the later evening with a fantastic result and performance by a young Hong Kong mens team. The team performed maturely and were very determined to perform and win. Kenneth Kwok deserves great credit for his team’s achievement.”
After the departure of Gary White, there seemed to be a great deal of uncertainty though the steady hand of Kenneth Kwok was an ideal interim replacement and a fan favourite and Kwok was “Happy to get the support of the fans in the game.” This Hong Kong performance bodes well for the future for whoever takes over the Hong Kong job for the long term future.
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