The Macau Elite League has come to an end and Benfica Macau are once again the champion. They now prepare for the AFC Cup 2017 qualifiers in August.
Despite being only in their 4th season in Macau’s top flight, Benfica de Macau won their 3rd consecutive title and proved once more that they are the best team in the league. The Benfica project, headed by Duarte Alves, is growing year by year. The initial goal was to become the best team in Macau, now with that achieved the new objective will be to qualify for the AFC Cup to gain more experience in international club competitions and spread Macau football all over the continent.
During the previous three seasons Benfica was led by young Portuguese coach Bruno Alvares. Only 28 years of age and with experience in top clubs in Portugal like Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, he soon conquered Macau and led the team to win two league championships and two FA Cup trophies. He also facilitated Benfica’s first ever participation in the preliminary round for the AFC Cup. That was a big achievement for a team that was still in the 2nd Division just 4 years ago..
After the exit of Bruno Alvares, Benfica de Macau signed Henrique Nunes, a coach who earned his spurs in the 2nd and 3rd Division in Portgual, and he almost achieved the perfect season, with an impressive record of 17 wins in 18 matches. In fact, Benfica could already claim the title in late May, with three rounds still to be played.
Ironically, it was exactly the last match day of the 2016 Macau Elite League, which saw Benfica loosing their first points in an enthusiastic “Portuguese derby” against Sporting Macau that ended 3-3. Sporting was the only team that could level with Benfica this season, in fact, it was the only team that scored goals against them. With this result Sporting eventually secured the 3rd place in the table.
Matchday 18 also saw a decisive match between Ka I and Monte Carlo for the runners-up position, with the better end for Ka I, beating Monte Carlo 3-1 and finishing 2nd, 11 points short of Benfica Macau.
C.P.K., Lai Chi and Policia, already had their fate decided finishing 5th, 6th and 7th respectively.
For the relegation fight there was also a decisive match between Casa de Portugal and Kei Lun, since Chuac Lun was already relegated, the winner of this match was going to be safe. In the end, a 1-1 draw for Kei Lun was enough to secure their spot in the Elite League, which means that Casa de Portgual will follow Chuac Lun into the 2nd Division.
After winning the championship, Benfica coach Henrique Nunes said: “Our big advantage was that we kept almost the same group of people from last season and we played the same 11 players almost every game, that gave us an advantage against our rivals that had to gain their routines later in the season.”
The draw for the AFC Cup 2017 qualifiers was held on June 17th. Benfica de Macau will play in group A against Rovers FC from Guam on August 21st and Dordoi from Kyrgyzstan on 23rd of August. All matches will be played in Kyrgyzstan.
Macau FA Cup final
On June 23rd Ka I stemmed the trophy of the FA Cup after beating C.P.K. 4-3 after penalties.
(photo source: Benfica Macau facebook)