Kitchee aim to continue their recent performance following their historic victory over Kashiwa Reysol in the Asian Champions League group stage two weeks ago. On Wednesday, April 4th, they will host their last home match of the competition to tangle with Tianjin Quanjian at Mong Kok Stadium. The kick off is scheduled for 8 pm, and tickets are reportedly sold out.
On the eve of the match-up, both teams held their press conferences and final training sessions. Alex Chu, head coach of Kitchee, expressed that the confidence of the team was boosted after their 1-0 win over Kashiwa. Unfortunately, Kitchee will be without their key center-backs Helio and Nando Recio, as both currently suffer from injures. In search for a new defensive line-up, Chu named Li Ngai-hoi as the most likely replacement for Helio, whom he described as a young but quality player who fared well in the previous two matches. Overall, with local support and home advantage, he believes that Kitchee will be able to play a good match.
Speaking of Tianjin who beat Kitchee with a 3-0 win in early February, Chu noted that the Chinese Super League side has lost three of their latest league games, but he did not take that as Kitchee’s advantage. He admitted that there is still a big gap in quality between Hong Kong and Mainland football. In other words, it remains a tough task for Kitchee to acquire all three points against Tianjin. However, at least the return of midfielder Huang Yang, who was absent for nearly one month, is very likely.
Tianjin coach Paulo Sousa predicted the match against Kitchee will not be as easy as the one in February. He praised the home team to have handled the competition well so far, and that they show ability to change their tactics during the game. to handle the competition well and to be able to change dynamic during the game. But with the right attitude, Tianjin should still be able to win this game.
Despite beating Kashiwa, Kitchee are still at the bottom of the group with three points, one less than the J-League side. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the group favorites, are still on top with nine points, followed by second-placed Tianjin Quanjian with seven points.