At the 41st edition of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup, the young HKFA squad lost 2-1 in the first leg at Provincial People’s Stadium, but managed to minimize the damage thanks to a wonder-strike from Jordan Lam. They would require at least a two-goal lead in the second leg this Wednesday, January 9th, to retain the title. Winning by one goal would send both teams into extra time and penalties.
Hong Kong coach Kenneth Kwok has selected the youngest squad ever, which was mainly composed of players eligible for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship (born in or after 1997), with only three additional over-aged players. With several CSL and China League 1 players among the starters, Guangdong pushed up high and was eager to take the lead right from the start, predominantly through chipping crosses from both sides. Despite starting with only four defensive outfield players, Hong Kong kept their back-line tight and defended well under Guangdong’s dominance.
In the 4th minute, goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing cleared a Guangdong cross and collided with Tu Dongxu, consequently hurting his left thigh. After receiving treatment twice, Tse Ka-wing remained in pain throughout the match, but was dedicated to carry on. Lu Lin came close to scoring in the 17th minute, following a cross by Hu Weiwei’s from the right, but his close range header at the far post was well blocked by Tse. Hong Kong relied on counter attack and pressed well even when Guangdong was in procession in their own half. They almost got rewarded when Hou Yu’s short clearance came straight to Remi Dujardin, who could not direct his shot goalwards. In the 41st minute, Lu Lin’s freekick from the left was met by Chen Zijie at the far post which was sent just wide of the post. During added time, a penalty was given to Guangdong as Leung Nok-hang was charged for elbowing Lu Lin inside the box while fighting for a header. Lu Lin sent a perfect penalty just under the crossbar to make it 1-0 at half-time.
Guangdong returned from the break with extra forward Ye Chugui, however, that created more space at Guangdong’s back when they were eager to get forward. In the 48th minute, Chan Kwong-ho ran into the box, passed back to Yue Tsz-lam at six yards out, but Zhu Haiwei and Hou Yu were also there to deny. Guangdong doubled their lead three minutes after, when Chen Zijie went unmarked at the far post to head in a Lu Lin corner. Hong Kong maintained their shape and did not give up afterwards, but were then forced to make two changes, as Tse Ka-wing finally could not continue with his injury sustained early in the game. He was replaced by Southern keeper Choy Tsz-ho. Chan Kwong-ho also came off injured for Cheng Siu-kwan. Guangdong continued to threaten and their closest moment was when Gong Liangxuan’s header skimmed off the post in the 89th minute. One minute into injury time, Jordan Lam pulled one back for Hong Kong with a wonderful left-footed looping volley from outside the box, lobbing Hou Yu to the bottom right corner of the net. During the remaining minute, Lu Lin earned two freekicks 35 yards out, but could not regain the two-goal lead for Guangdong.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, acting Hong Kong head coach Kenneth Kwok emphasized the learning process for his young players would be more important than the match outcome. Even though Guangdong’s star player Lu Lin will be absent for the second leg, Kenneth Kwok hoped for a similar intensity from Guangdong and would go for a more attacking approach next Wednesday.
Earlier that day, the Hong Kong women’s team lost 6-2 to Guangdong at the same venue, with Cheung Wai-ki and Pang Tsz-ching scoring for the guests.
The teams will return to Hong Kong Stadium for the second leg next Wednesday, January 9th, at Hong Kong Stadium where Hong Kong would need to win by two goals to retain the Cup, as there is no away goal advantage in this competition. The match will kick off at 8 pm. The two women teams will also meet again, albeit only in a friendly game this time, which will start three hours earlier at 5 pm.
1 Tse Ka-wing
2 Law Tsz-chun
3 Yu Wai-lim
5 Leung Nok-hang
6 Wu Chun-ming
7 Remi Dujardin
8 Chan Kwong-ho
9 Yuen Chun-sing
15 Yue Tze-lam
16 Sun Ming-him
22 Matthew Orr
19 Choy Tsz-To (for Tse Ka-wing at 59’)
11 Cheng Siu-kwan (for Chan Kwong-ho at 62’)
21 Peng Lin-lin (for Yue Tsz-lam at 77’)
17 Lam Lok-kan (for Yuen Chun-sing at 77’)
12 Chung Sing-lam (for Remi Dujardin, 90’)