R&F's game against Kitchee was rescheduled to 25 November as the stadium in Guangzhou is not ready yet. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)
Kitchee picked up their first trophy of the season last weekend, when they defeated Eastern 2-1 in the Community Cup at Mong Kok Stadium. Given the limited significance of the fixture, coach Alex Chu decided to give some of the non-regulars a chance, but even in the face of this weakened squad, Eastern were nothing more than toothless opponents. In a special tribute, Szeto Man-chun’s men were sporting their Adidas kits from the early 1990s, when the club celebrated three consecutive championships, but even in their turquoise uniforms luck was not on their side. One month into the new season, Eastern are still waiting for their first result, in what threatens to become a horrifying campaign for the expected title contenders. Hence, the coming weekend will probably be the last chance to turn things around, before the Premier League will take another break for the upcoming Asian Cup qualifying match between the representative teams of Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Nonetheless, this week’s headlines were actually dominated by the upcoming fixture between R&F and Kitchee. On Sept 30, R&F should have hosted their first home game of the season at Guangzhou’s Yanzigang Stadium. However, it appeared that the new venue has not yet satisfied the requirements of the Hong Kong Football Association. In a first reaction, the FA rescheduled the game to 1 October and moved it to Hammer Hill Road Sports Ground in Hong Kong. But other clubs protested against the decision, as they would see it as an unfair advantage for Kitchee, if they would be the only ones in the campaign not to travel to Guangzhou. Eventually, the HKFA decided to arrange the match on 25 November instead, giving R&F more time to get their home base in Guangzhou ready. This means, both clubs will enjoy a bye-week, which will leave R&F already with two games in hand (their first-round game had to be cancelled due to bad weather). At least the remaining four games will take place as planned.
LEE MAN v TAI PO, Premier League, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Sept 30, 2:30 pm
After beating Eastern in the league, Lee Man had another successful night last weekend, when they defeated R&F in the preliminary round of the Senior Shield, with goals from Ze Victor and Luciano da Silva. On Saturday, they will try to prolong their series against Tai Po, but the district team from the New Territories will certainly put up a worthy fight. The Greens can also count on the best local goalscorers in the league, with Wong Wai and Yuen Chun-sing both scoring twice in three games. Nevertheless, Tai Po are still affected by a series of injuries and it is yet to see if Dhiego Martins, Dudu, and Sean Tse could make their comeback on time. Lee Man will again look at the leadership of Spaniard Jordi Tarres, who is in the process of obtaining his HKSAR passport and might soon be eligible to join the Hong Kong representative team as well.
Eastern were sporting their retro kits from the 1990s in the Community Cup. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)
PEGASUS v EASTERN, Premier League, Hong Kong Stadium, Sept 30, 5:30 pm
Undoubtedly, the match of the week will take place on Saturday between Pegasus and Eastern. The latter are under increasing pressure to secure their first points of the season, while the Flying Horsemen have shown great confidence in recent games, especially the 1-1 draw with title favourites Kitchee. With a win against Eastern, Pegasus could also take over the top position in the league table, as Kitchee’s game with R&F has been rescheduled to November. For one man in particular, this match will be particularly meaningful: Yeung Ching-kwong, now head coach of Pegasus, was also responsible for Eastern’s successful spell in the 2015/16 season before he left to join Meizhou Hakka in China’s League One as assistant coach. Since then, Eastern have not changed too much, meaning that Yeung will know perfectly how to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. If Eastern would suffer another defeat in their fourth league game, that might well be the end for coach Szeto Man-chun, as both fans and management will not be patient for much longer.
RANGERS v YUEN LONG, Premier League, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, Oct 1, 2:30 pm
Last weekend Rangers were finally able to celebrate when theymanaged to beat Dreams after penalties in the Senior Shield. DejanAntonic’s side took the lead thanks to another goal by Tommy Chuck Yiu-kwok, but Joaquin Garcia equalized in the 78th minute. Eventually, the match was decided in a shoot-out that Rangers decided for themselves with a 5-4 score line, the winning goal coming from Lai Lok-yin. The club will certainly try to repeat this performance in the upcoming Premier League match, where they face Yuen Long. The Tangerines from the New Territories have yet to find their form this season, as they succumbed to Dreams in a surprising 1-3 defeat. The team will especially look at Brazilian striker Everton Camargo to make his mark, while Rangers will hope that Argentine forward Cristian Castanois ready for his debut goal.
Southern defender Shay Spitz donated 10 pairs of football shoes to a refugee team in Hong Kong. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)
DREAMS v SOUTHERN, Premier League, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Oct 1, 5:30 pm
Before the Premier League will enter a two-weeks break to accommodate the international games, Dreams and Southern will complete the fourth round at Tsing Yi Sports Ground. Dreams are probably the most unpredictable team so far. After being thrashed 7-0 by Kitchee in mid-September, they surprised many by taking down Yuen Long the following week in a deserved 3-1 victory. Hence, Southern will be duly warned about their capabilities. Nevertheless, the Aberdeeners remain to be the clear favourites, as they look to get their third consecutive league win after beating both Rangers and R&F. But also outside the pitch some Southern players made noteworthy headlines. On Wednesday, Southern defender and Hong Kong-born New Zealander Shay Spitz visited All Black FC, a refugee team in Hong Kong, to donate ten pairs of his football shoes.