In front of a 6,200 strong crowd in the palatial surroundings of Hong Kong Stadium, this year’s edition of the Hong Kong Senior Shield was brought to its conclusion today, with Kitchee triumphing over a lacklustre Eastern side to claim their first win in this competition in 11 years.
Kitchee were dealt a blow just before kick-off, as Hong Kong international Alex Akande sustained an injury in the warm-up which put paid to his participation in proceedings. Undeterred by this, the eventual winners started the game as they meant to go on, playing with a high tempo and creating a number of chances. The best of which fell to Leonardo Ferreira, aks Sandro, who saw his effort saved by Yapp Hung-fai in the Eastern goal. The deadlock was broken after just sixteen minutes, and in an interesting twist of fate it was Akande’s replacement Lam Zhi-gin who was the perpetrator, getting on the end of a goal-bound Helio header to flick the ball just over the hands of Yapp. Fired up by this deficit, Eastern began to fight back, and were unlucky not to level matters soon after as a good team move eventually saw the ball land at the feet of Michel Lugo, who shot high and wide. The remainder of the half was something of a tight affair, with both sides enjoying spells of possession without creating any real clear-cut chances. Fernando saw a free kick sail just wide of the post, and this was to be the last chance of the half, with Kitchee maintaining their 1-nil advantage at the break.
The second half began much in the same vein as the first, and Kitchee almost doubled their lead before some spectators had even taken their seats. Sandro crossed to Matt Lam, whose well-taken effort ended up straight in the hands of the goalkeeper. Buoyed on by their vociferous support, Eastern struck level soon after courtesy of a great team goal which culminated in Tsang Kam-to squaring to Miroslav Saric, who made no mistake in firing home. Unfortunately for Eastern, this proved to be their last positive to take from this game, as Kitchee proceeded to gain an upper hand. Debutant Krisztian Vadocz was unlucky to see his long-range strike sail over, before Matt Lam was denied by a save from the ever-reliable Yapp Hung-fai. Looking increasingly dangerous in attack, it was only a matter of time before Kitchee got the crucial goal, and this eventually came courtesy of Jared Lum. Substitute Rufino Segovia making an instant impact by charging down the left hand side and crossing to Sandro, who squared to Lum, leaving him with the simple task of sending the ball into the back of the empty net. Eastern tried in vain to push the game to extra time, and a long-range strike from Saric was foiled by a fantastic save from Wang Zhenpeng. The last action of the game saw Yapp Hung-fai push forward for a corner in last-ditchch attempt to salvage something from the game, but to no avail. This victory should serve as a major confidence boost for Kitchee in the league title race between these two sides, while for Eastern, Chan Yuen-ting will be eager to ensure that the defensive frailty shown by her side in this final does not cost them two titles this season.
KITCHEE: Wang Zhenpeng, Helio Goncalves, Fernando (Dani Cancela), Leonardo “Sandro” Ferreira, Lo Kwan Yee, Huang Yang, Matt Lam, Krisztian Vadocz (Rufino Segovia), Kim Dong-jin, Kim Bong-jin, Lam Zhi-gin (Jared Lum).
EASTERN: Yapp Hung-fai, Diego Eli, Bai He (Jaimes McKee), Miroslav Saric, Manuel Bleda, Michel Lugo, Tsang Chi-hau, Cheng King-ho, Roberto Affonso, Lee Hong-lim, Tsang Kam-to (Giovane Da Silva)