On Monday, March 16th, two district teams met at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground to wrap up the fixtures of the FA Cup quarterfinals. A day after the defending champions being eliminated, Southern, runners-up of a season ago, suffered a 1-4 defeat against Tai Po. Dudu, Michael Luk, Nakamura Yuto, and Kim Seungyong all scored to send Tai Po into the semifinals. A few hours after the game, Ricky Cheng Siu-chung, the Southern head coach, was relieved of his duty.
Winless in three previous games, the Aberdeeners looked to reset after bowing to R&F and Kitchee in the Sapling Cup and league fixtures respectively. Cheng penciled in a similar lineup as he did last Tuesday, except for goalkeeper Tse Tak-him and striker Dhiego Martins.
On the other hand, the Greens would like to continue their Cup journey after knocking out Lee Man on penalty shootouts in the FA Cup’s first round. They had to do so without Eugene Mbome, who was serving his suspension after being expulsed in the last match.
As the match progressed, the advantage clearly belonged to the home side as most of the events happened in the opposition back end. However, it was Tai Po who handled well their opening chance for a goal.
Kim Seung Yong fed Nakamura with a terrific cross, but the shot from the naturalized Japanese midfielder was tipped over the crossbar by Alex Chin. Nonetheless, from the consequent corner, Dudu headed in to give his club a 0-1 lead.
Four minutes later, the Greens stunned the rivals again with the second goal. Luk tested goalkeeper Li Yat-chun with a 25-yard shot, which was found in the net after passing under Li’s shoulder.
Trailing by two, the Aberdeeners pulled one back from a corner in the 23-minute mark. Chan Kong-pan put his name on the board with a header while most of the Tai Po players seemed to have frozen on the play.
After the break, the Greens solidified their chance of advancing to the next round, following Nakamura’s one-hop header that beat Li in the 55th minute. And, at the back end of the match, Kim Seungyong completed the team’s four-goal evening. Moreover, their defense has been excellent throughout the afternoon, managing to cancel out various threats from the opponents.
As now all semi-finalists are set, the round of final four will be played over the coming weekend. Eastern and Pegasus will face off on Saturday while R&F and Tai Po compete on the following day. Both fixtures will be hosted, once again, at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground.
Less than five hours after the team was eliminated, Southern issued a statement on Facebook that Cheng had departed the club and thanked him for steering the ship for five years in the Premier League. For the rest of the season, Southern will be led by Assistant Coach Cristiano Cordeiroand Team Manager Pui Ho Wang.