On Thursday, January 4th, the 40th Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup kicked off at Hong Kong Stadium, in which 5,341 spectators witnessed an entertaining 2-0 victory for the home team over the visitors from Guangdong, with goals from Cheung Chi-yung and Chuck Yiu-kwok.
With Kenneth Kwok filling in as head coach for this occasion, a squad of only local players was given the task to win the annual cup for the first time since 2013. Kwok started the game with a 4-3-3 formation to encounter a 4-4-2 lineup commanded by Guangdong’s head coach Chen Yuliang.
It was a fast-paced game with a lot of up-and-down at both ends. To begin with, the visitors registered the first shot just six minutes into the game, when Xiao Zhi’s effort on Zhong Juzhan’s cross was blocked by goalkeeper Yuen Ho-chun. Their best chance came 20 minutes later: This time a shot from Yang Chaosheng hit the far post. However, Hong Kong reacted immediately and increased their offensive work. Moments later, Cheng Chin-lung aimed wide on a breakaway, but his shot went off-target while being pressured by the Guangdong defence.
Despite the first half ending in a tie, Guangdong looked more likely to put themselves on the scoreboard, first as defender Tu Dongxu was at Hong Kong’s doorstep with a couple of really close headers. However, with Michael Luk entering for Cheng in the 55th minute, the home side slowly regained some possession and momentum, especially when their set pieces were specifically handled by the Southern District midfielder.
And he finally converted one of the set pieces to a potential game-winner in the 79th minute, when his corner let to some confusion in the six-yard box. Captain Cheung exploited this opportunity and put the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.
Building on the thin lead, substitute Tommy Chuck Yiu-kowk – the Rangers striker who was allegedly given his “last chance” to be included in the Hong Kong team – added an insurance in stoppage time. His first attempt on goal was blocked by a defender, but he made no mistake to beat the goalkeeper on the rebound.
At the post-match press conference, coach Kwok was very satisfied with the result as his so-called “Plan A” – to win the first leg – was achieved. He also revealed Plan B of not conceding goals in Guangzhou. Tommy Chuck, who imitated his idol Ronaldo during the goal celebration, expressed his happiness to finally represent Hong Kong and his performance not only earned him respect from the local fans, who chanted his name, but should also give him tons of confidence in the future.
With a two-goal advantage, Hong Kong will meet Guangdong for the second leg on Sunday afternoon, January 7th, at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Stadium.