For the first time in five years, Hong Kong regained the title of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup Sunday, January 7th, at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Stadium in Guangzhou by defeating their opponents with an aggregate score of 6-4 (2-2) after penalties.
Despite starting the second leg with a two-goal advantage, the visitors had to show maximum effort and concentration as the match was drawn level on aggregate after 90 minutes of play, consequently forcing both sides to proceed with extra-time and a penalty shootout, in which the sensational Yuen Ho-chun made two crucial saves for the victory.
Guangdong strengthened their attacking power with veteran Lu Lin returning to the lineup after not traveling to Hong Kong for the first leg. His presence paid dividends to the host, as a penalty was awarded when he was taken down from behind by Chak Ting-fung. The midfielder for Guangzhou R&F converted from the spot for a 1-0 lead just before the end of the first half.
The hosts scored the second goal, courtesy of an own goal by Chak around 23 minutes after the break. He hurried back in an attempt to defend, but mistakenly put the ball into an empty net on a cross from Yang Chaosheng.
As the match progressed, Guangdong applied continuous pressure on Hong Kong’s backfield, creating some good chances, but failed to capitalize. Yang’s effort some 20 yards away was saved by Yuen. Later on, a header from Tu Dongxu had Yuen beaten only to bounce off the crossbar.
However, Hong Kong should be given credits to remain resilient to the dominating Guangdong selection for the rest of the game. In the penalty shootout, Pegasus goalkeeper Yuen guessed the right side twice to deny Lu and Yang, while Chuck Yiu-kwok was the only Hong Kong player whose shot was stopped by Han Feng. And when Tse Long-hin netted the winner, it erupted into a memorable celebration, as Hong Kong halted Guangdong’s four straight years of victory under the guidance of interim coach Kenneth Kwok.
With Kwok achieving his so-called “Plan A” of winning the first leg, his “Plan B” of not allowing goals on Sunday was even a much tougher task to accomplish. But overall his hard-working squad, consisting only of locally born Hong Kong players, came up with what should be a more-than-satisfying performance.
Kwok used four bench players of the first leg to start on Sunday, including Michael Luk, Ngan Lok-fung, and Leung Kwun-chung all occupying a midfield position, while Yuen Chun-sing being assigned as the lone striker, who registered only one shot on target, before being replaced by Chuck in the 86th minute.
The result allowed Hong Kong to lift the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup trophy for the first time since 2013, counting now a total of 16 victories compared to Guangdong’s 24.