No upset was seen in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, as Kitchee edged past Dreams with a 2-1 win, while Southern sunk fellow district team Yuen Long by 2-0. Therefore, Kitchee and Southern both advance to the FA Cup final in the bid of earning the remaining AFC Cup spot for next season, as Tai Po already secured the other slot with the league title.
Despite the news on salary delays for Dreams’ staff and players, the team performance did not reveal much distraction. In a very even first half, Dreams had arguably the closer chances when Nacho Martinez and Diego Higino’s close range headers went just over the bar. Kitchee almost scored, as Pablo Gallardo missed Fernando’s cross from the right before the ball fell to Jared Lum, who could not divert the ball goalwards. Hence, the match remained goalless in the first 45 minutes.
Returning from the break, Lam Hin-ting had two great chances to give Dreams the lead but could not get past Wang Zhenpeng. In the 55th minute, however, Kitchee broke the deadlock when Ju Yingzhi’s long cross picked up Tong Kin-man, whose header was sent into the net by Jared Lum at the far post. The Dreamers leveled things up just twelve minutes later, when Marcos Gondra equalized through an excellent 30-yard free kick, rocketing to the top right corner. Eventually, it was centre-back Helio who sent the Bluewaves through to the final with eight minutes from regular time, when substitute Matt Lam’s freekick found him at the far post, heading it home over the defense. Dreams’ substitute Leung Kwok-wai almost took the game to extra time when he came close with a long range attempt, which was denied again by Wang Zhenpeng to confirm Kitchee’s place in the FA Cup final for the third season in a row.
The second semi-final was played on a sunny Mother’s Day afternoon on May 12th between two district teams. Zesh Rehman gave Southern the lead at the quarter mark of the hour, with a volley from the edge of the box what went in off the post. He had been set up by James Ha after Chan Ka-ho parried Wellingsson de Souza’s shot out to the pacy forward. As in the first semi-final, the match was fairly even, with most exchanges taking place in the midfield. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Tangerines almost found the equalizer through Cheung Kin-fung, whose 25-yard free kick was destined to the bottom near corner, but Tse Tak-him got down quickly enough to push it away.
Yuen Long started the second half lively and Chan Kwong-ho soon had a goal ruled offside. However, being the best defensive team in the league, the Aberdeeners allowed little space for the Tangerines to break through. Fabio Lopes came closest with a mid-range attempt hitting the post, but otherwise hardly challenged Tse Tak-him. Like in the earlier semi-final, the winner found their second goal with eight minutes from the end. Marko Krasic’s cross from the sidelines was deflected off Kessi to an unmarked James Ha, who calmly curled it past Chan Ka-ho to send his team through to the final.
Kitchee will meet Southern in the hope of winning their third back-to-back FA Cup title on Saturday, May 25th, at Hong Kong Stadium, which also marks the final game of the domestic season.
Dreams 1:2 Kitchee (May 11th 8:00pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 976)
Yuen Long 0:2 Southern (May 12th 4:00pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 1454)