Benfica Macau started their AFC Cup campaign with an impressive comeback win against Hang Yuen FC from Taiwan. One week after that match, the Macau champions will have a bigger challenge when they head to Pyongyang to face the North Korean team Hwaebul.
Benfica Macau had their opening AFC Cup match against Hang Yuen FC from Taiwan on March 7th, in what proved to be a though 3-2 win for the Macau champions. Benfica had a terrible start and ended the first half with two goals down, both scored by Chen Ching-hsuan. But after the break it was a different story. David Tetteh came in for the injured Nicholas Torrão, and Benfica started to become more concentrated. Eventually, Benfica scored three goals, two by Carlos Leonel and one by Gil Ngema, to claim back all three points and with it, the first ever win in the AFC Cup.
After the historic win for Macau football, Benfica coach Bernardo Tavares said that the half time break was essential to get this win: “Coming into the looker room and see seven players with their heads down, it’s hard for a coach. But after three minutes, everybody had their heads up again. What was said to the team was done on the field, everyone changed the attitude and got more concentrated.”
“This was history for Macau, as we have never played at this stage of the tournament. I want to congratulate my boys, but also the whole team. Everyone worked so hard to prepare to play in the AFC Cup,” added the Portuguese coach.
Hang Yuen FC coach, Hung Chin Hwai also spoke with the press after the match, highlighting the defensive errors of his team: “In the second half, we made a lot of marking errors. We let them play on our back, and that was our mistake, no one was pressing and Benfica started to play to their will.”
Next Wednesday Benfica will play against Hwaebul. Little is known about the North Korean team. They have reached this stage of the competition by trashing the Mongolian champions Erchim in the play-off, but lost the first match of the group stage 1-0 against North Korean powerhouses April 25. After that first defeat Hwaebul will want to win this game in order to stay on the run for the top of the group.
This will be the first away match for Benfica in the competition and it will be against a team from a country which has a much higher standard in football, so a draw would already be a huge achievement for Benfica.
Benfica is expected to start the match in a more defensive 4-5-1 formation, but will not have all of their key players at their disposal. Right back Chan Man did not get permission from his employer and winger Nicholas Torrão as well as Rafael Bastardo were not able to travel to Pyongyang.
The other match of the group will be played in Taiwan when Hang Yuen FC will host April 25.