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December Round-Up: Cups & HKPL

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by Tobias Zuser
edited by Jeff Hardbattle

2015 was arguably a terrific year for football in Hong Kong and will surely be remembered as such in the years to come. Not only for the unexpected goalless draws with the Chinese national team in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, but also for the sudden euphoria that has dragged the sport into the limelight that it so rarely enjoys. Although the fever has yet to spread into the local league, there is now no doubt that Hong Kongers still care about the beautiful game. Following the busy December football schedule in the territory with four different competitions in less than 9 days, offside.hk brings you an overview of all the results for all of the cup and Premier League games. Happy New Year!

SENIOR SHIELD

The two semi-finals of the Senior Shield more or less concluded the 2015 football calendar in Hong Kong, and – as it turned out – in a more than a worthwhile manner.

On Boxing Day, Kitchee and Southern met each other again at Mong Kok Stadium, only a few days after a clear-cut win for the sky blues in the Sapling Cup (see below). Unsurprisingly, many expected a similar outcome for this game, but James Ha seemed to have other plans. The 23-year-old Southern striker took it upon himself to avenge his team for the earlier defeat, with his two goals putting Southern into the Senior Shield final in what is undoubtedly the biggest achievement in the club’s short history.

On December 27th, it was time for the Hong Kong version of “El Clasico” between South China and Eastern. After an early goal by Luiz Carlos, it looked like the Caroliners would be bringing home the victory, but just 10 minutes before the end, Diego Moreira’s equalizer brought Eastern back into the game. Extra time saw Andrew Barisic becoming both the villain and the hero of the match, as the Eastern striker scored twice, once for each team. Only three minutes after his unlucky own goal, he made amends for his mistake and hammered the ball past South China goalkeeper Christian Mora from close range. The following penalty shoot out had  all the drama such an occasion deserved, with Eastern eventually coming out on top as 4:3 winners.

Chan Siu Ki’s missed penalty kick has already become a YouTube hit and will surely be a moment that the Hong Kong national team striker will be keen to forget. His awkward lob shot was probably meant to give off an air of coolness, but Yapp Hung Fai was easily able to pluck the ball out of the air, giving more of an impression of being in the midst of an easy warm up exercise rather than being a penalty shoot-out of Hong Kong’s most prestigious cup competition.

This particular Senior Shield encounter may also be well remembered due to FIFA referee Ho Wai Sing, who altogether awarded 17 yellow cards and 1 red card, leaving only a minority of players without a booking.

South China have been forced to ay goodbye to some of their more well-established players in the transfer market, as right-back and Hong Kong national squad member Jack Sealy has signed a promising 5-year-contract with Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai. From 2016, players with a Hong Kong passport will not be deemed as Chinese anymore and will instead count as foreign aid. However, all existing contracts will be exempt from this rule until their expiry, so Sealy should have a good chance of regular appearances. Shortly afterwards, fan-favourite Manoel dos Santos, better known by his nickname Itaparica, also announced his departure to China’s second tier club Xinjiang Tianshan FC. However, South China manager Casemiro Mior has also been active, and he has signed Australian striker Ryan Griffiths whilst also acquiring former Ecuadorian national team player Felix Borja, who earned his spurs with Mainz 05 as well as Olympiacos.
Eastern have also confirmed the transfer of defensive midfielder Bai He from China Super League club Shijiazhuang Yongchang.

On January 24th, Southern and Eastern will meet at Hong Kong Stadium for the 114th Senior Shield Final (Kick off: 3pm). Time will tell if Eastern can repeat last year’s success, where they beat Kitchee 3-2 in an enthralling game.


PREMIER LEAGUE

On December 23rd, Kitchee hosted South China for the long-awaited Premier League derby, with a respectable crowd of 3,630 fans making their way to Mong Kok Stadium, which amounted to the highest attendance in the on-going season. Already 7 points behind their rivals from Caroline Hill, Kitchee have come under increasing pressure to stay in the title race for the championship. And just 12 minutes into the game, the situation became even fiercer, when South China captain Chan Siu Ki put the guests in an early lead. However, Brazilian-born Hong Konger Paulinho equalized almost straight away, rekindling the hope of the Kitchee fans. Unfortunately for him, just 20 minutes later the striker had to leave the pitch after an elbow check by Malisic left him with a black eye. The hosts also dominated the second half, with Fernando (47′), Sandro (87′) and Akande (90’+4′), making it a second win for Kitchee against South China in the current season, after an initial defeat in the Community Cup. Luiz Carlos’ late goal (90’+5′) was merely a consolation goal for the away side and the match ended 4-2.
After six Premier League rounds (out of 16), Eastern go into 2016 on top of the table (16 pts), followed by South China (15 pts), and Kitchee in third (11 pts).

PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE (31/12/2015)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Eastern 6 5 1 0 13 4 9 16
2 South China 6 5 0 1 13 5 8 15
3 Kitchee 6 3 2 1 12 5 7 11
4 Dreams 7 3 1 3 7 11 -4 10
5 Pegasus 6 2 3 1 10 8 2 9
6 Southern 6 1 3 2 7 7 0 6
7 Rangers 7 0 3 4 2 8 -6 3
8 Yuen Long 6 0 3 3 6 16 -10 3
9 Wong Tai Sin 6 0 2 4 3 9 -6 2

SAPLING CUP 

Even on Christmas Day, football fans in Hong Kong didn’t have to do without football, thanks to the Sapling Cup. More than 400 people watched Rangers fight out a 1:1 draw with Yuen Long, which is coincidentally both team’s first point in Group A, where they are currently ranked 4th and 5th respectively, with Yuen Long now bowing out of the competition. On the same day, Wong Tai Sin defeated Dreams at Mong Kok Stadium with Japanese forward Yuto Nakamura scoring the only goal of the night. Pegasus retain their spot at the top of Group B with 4 points, while Wong Tai Sin move into second, followed by Dreams (1 pt) and South China (0 pts). However, the Caroliners can still turn things around in the remaining two group fixtures, especially as Pegasus only drew with Dreams in their previous match on December 20th.

SAPLING CUP GROUP A (31/12/2015)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Eastern 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7
2 Kitchee 3 1 2 0 5 2 3 5
3 Southern 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
4 Rangers 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
5 Yuen Long 4 0 1 3 4 10 -6 1

SAPLING CUP GROUP B (31/12/2015)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Pegasus 2 1 1 0 2 0 2 4
2 Wong Tai Sin 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3
3 Dreams 2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1
4 South China 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

LEAGUE CUP

On December 19th, Kitchee thrashed Southern 4:1 in Mong Kok Stadium, despite James Ha having put his team in front earlier in the game. However, the sky blues found their rhythm in the second half, with Akande (56′), Fernando (68′), Cancela (84′) and Sham Kwok Keung (90’+5′) firing Kitchee to their third win in the League Cup campaign and securing their progress to the semi-finals. Only 1 hour later, South China followed suit and beat Wong Tai Sin 4:1 at Kowloon Bay Park with goals from Lam Hok Hei (15′), Itaparica (23′), Andy Russell (39′) and Lucas Da Silva (54′).

LEAGUE CUP GROUP A (31/12/2015)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Kitchee 3 3 0 0 10 2 8 9
2 South China 3 2 0 1 8 3 5 6
3 Southern 3 1 1 1 4 5 -1 4
4 Dreams 3 1 0 2 2 5 -3 3
5 Wong Tai Sin 4 0 1 3 2 11 -9 1

LEAGUE CUP GROUP B (31/12/2015)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Rangers 2 2 0 0 4 1 3 6
2 Eastern 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 3
3 Pegasus 2 1 0 1 1 2 -1 3
4 Yuen Long 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2 0

 

 

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