The 2017 season of Macanese football has officially ended with the FA Cup final last weekend, when Benfica Macau clinched the double.
The cup final featured the two best teams of Macau: current champions Benfica and league runners-up Monte Carlo. This was the perfect opportunity for Benfica to aim for another double after 2014, while Monte Carlo – who had recently beaten Benfica in the league – wanted to take revenge for another failed championship race.
The semi-finals – that saw Benfica eliminating Kei Lun and Monte Carlo defeating C.P.K. – happened just three days earlier, raising concerns about the scheduling by the Macau FA. The short period for recovery had a significant impact on both teams and several players were eventually injured for the big clash.
Benfica had to do without regular starters Edgar Teixeira, Carlos Leonel and Bernardo Marques (but the latter two were on the bench), who were replaced by local players such as Lee Keng Pang, Vinicius Morais Alves, Ethan Lay and Lei Kam Hong. Monte Carlo’s Leong Weng Hong was suspended, but the club also missed three key players in the starting XI, including Keverson, Leandro and Paulo Cheang.
Despite the exciting background, the match turned out to be extremely one-sided, with Benfica trashing Monte Carlo 8-1. In fact, Lee Keng Pang already opened the score sheet in the first minute of play. Early in the game Monte Carlo had another setback, when Leandro Tanaka had to be substituted. Soon after Benfica’s Lei Kam Hong added the second goal, followed by Lee Keng Pang and Nicholas Torrão, making it 4-0 at half time.
The second half was just more of the same. To make matters worse, Monte Carlo’s goalkeeper Ho Man Fai was sent off in the 61st minute. With one man more, the final victory was only a matter of time. Especially Ethan Lay made an impressive mark, when scoring after dribbling around half of the Monte Carlo defense. Keverson scored the consolation goal for Monte Carlo in the 80th minute, but Benfica’s Vinicius Morais Alves and Nicholas Torrão increased the final tally to 8-1.
Benfica’s head coach Henrique Nunes admitted: “We were lucky, because we scored very early and maybe that goal has made Monte Carlo a bit insecure. Our team worked very well.”
The solid performance of the local players should also give some hope that they might get more playing time next season.
Nunes has also already made a decision about his future in Macau: “If Benfica take part in the AFC Cup, I will most likely continue. If not, I think my work in Macau comes to an end and I will return to Portugal.” At the moment Benfica are still applying for the AFC License, which is a prerequisite for participation.
In the FA Cup match for third place, Kei Lun beat C.P.K. 4-3.
Pang Chi-hang wins 2017 MVP award
Also last weekend, the Macau FA announced the season awards, with Benfica mildfielder Pang Chi-hang winning the MVP trophy. The Macau born player is currently connected with some Hong Kong Premier League clubs and could soon join Leong Ka-hang as second Macanese player in Hong Kong’s top division.
Monte Carlo coach Caludio Roberto was named “Best Coach”, after taking Monte Carlo to runners up of both league and FA Cup. Top goalscorer is Benfica’s Carlos Leonel, scoring altogether 23 times.
It is also important to highlight that legendary Macanese goalkeeper Domingos Chan announced his retirement. Earlier this season, he was still rumored to jump in during a goalkeeper crisis at Biu Chun Glory Sky in the Hong Kong Premier League. Despite his age, 46-year-old Chan , who played for C.P.K. last season, is still regarded by many as Macau’s best goalkeeper.