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HKFA appointed Sutcliffe as new chief executive

Mark Sutcliffe accepted the offer of the HKFA as the new chief executive yesterday, taking over from Gordon McKie, who fell out of favour with the HKFA less than six months. Sutcliffe was the obvious candidate for the job, having played an instrumental role in the game's development, firstly as the author of the government's development strategy "Dare to Dream", and more recently as the official change agent appointed to assess the operations of the HKFA. His raft of recommendations to revitalise the local game was adopted as "Project Phoenix". "I am under no illusions about how important this challenge is and I will devote myself 100 per cent to raising the standard and profile of football in Hong Kong and to delivering that potential." Sutcliffe said. ""My experience through the development of Project Phoenix has helped me build positive relationships with the board of directors, existing staff and other stakeholders."


Jockey Club commits to financing soccer academy

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has commited to financing the construction of a soccer academy in Tseung Kwan O. The club's chief executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, said yesterday he expected the project would cost between HK$400 million and HK$500 million. "We are still waiting for a proposal from the football association so that we can proceed with it." he said. "We are committed to the development of soccer in Hong Kong ... We had some good discussions over the last three or four months and even agreed in principle that if the proposals were finalised, we would be willing to build it by earmarking a significant amount of money" Meanwhile, the Jockey club will collaborate with Manchester United to launch a three-year training programme to raise the standard of youth players in Hong Kong.


Cordeiro decided to hang up boots

Former Hong Kong international defender Cristiano Cordeiro announced his retirement from football after a celebrating match at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday, ending a pretty successful career that lasted 22 years. Cordeiro started his professional career at Brazilian club SC Internacional, where he spent seven years before moving to local giants South China. Cordiero was introduced by former coach Casemiro Mior in 1998 and he enjoyed a lot of success with the Caroliners until deciding to leave for Sun Hei in 2003. His high performance gained the first international cap for Hong Kong team in 2006. The 38-year-old Cordeiro had scored one goal in his 13 times appearance for Hong Kong. He also won the Hong Kong Footballer of the Year twice (2000/01 and 2004/05). Cordeiro had built up himself to be one of the most successful player in Hong Kong. After retirement, Corderio said he will return Brazil with his family members and he never forget Hong Kong fans. Meanwhile, Sun Hei's veteran goalkeeper Domingos Chan was also decided to retire from professional football yesterday.


Merrick demands more as HK edge Singapore

Coach Ernie Merrick made it two wins out of two after Hong Kong edged Singapore 1-0 in front of a 4,200 crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium last night. Kitchee midfielder Lam Ka-wai, who had a terrific match according to Merrick, scored the only goal in the 36th minute to keep Hong Kong unbeaten after two matches under the Scottish coach. Although pleased Hong Kong maintained their unbeaten run, Merrick wasn't overly satisfied at the end of the friendly international. "I made some structural changes in defence in the second half when we came under pressure but when we made those changes, the team lost their cohesion and that's what happened tonight," he said. "Singapore chased us all over the ground and made us work hard for the win." Hong Kong's next game is against Vietnam in eight days' time.


Kitchee's Lo fulfils his promise with top award

Full-back Lo Kwan-yee was crowned Hong Kong Footballer of the Year last night as Kitchee players dominated the awards. Six players from the treble winners were picked for the best squad of the season, with Lo taking the top prize. "I did not expect to become the Football of the Year at such an age, I would expect winning it approaching the end of my career," said the 27-year-old. "Kitchee have achieved a memorable season, but it couldn't happen without the contribution of all players, officials and the management. They all deserve the recognition." Other Kitchee players in the Best 11 were Zeshan Rehman, Daniel Cancela, Lam Ka-wai, Chu Siu-kei and Jorge Tarres. The rest of the team was: Yapp Hung-fai, Joel Bertoti, Festus Baise, Yuto Nakamura, and Lee Hong-lim. Meanwhile, Kitchee coach Josep Gombau won the Best Coach for the second consecutive year last night. And, Sham Shui Po midfielder Aender Naves was voted as the fan favourite players of the year.


Kitchee make a treble

Kitchee completed a club-record treble yesterday after a dramatic recovery in extra time of the FA Cup final saw them go on to defeat TSW Pegasus in a penalty shoot-out. Pegasus, who lost to Kitchee in both the league championship and the League Cup final this season, were on course for sweet revenge at Hong Kong Stadium with a 3-1 lead in extra time, but they contrived to concede two goals in seven minutes of added time, brought about by a late mass scuffle on the pitch, and were beaten 5-3 in the penalty ritual. Meanwhile, Kitchee captain Roberto Losada announced his retirement at the end of the match. "It's just amazing," said Roberto, who won the Player of the Year award last season for helping Kitchee to their first league championship in 47 years. "I have won everything in my two years in Hong Kong. I am not happy to finish my career, but I am happy it finished this way."


Cup dream ends as Kitchee fail to fire

Kitchee's AFC Cup campaign came to an abrupt end after they were well beaten by visitors Arema of Indonesia 2-0 in the round of 16 match at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground last night. The Hong Kong champions had held high hopes of performing well in the regional cup tie after finishing first in their group, earning home ground advantage against Arema, who came second in their group and qualified for the knockout stage only through a better goal difference over two other clubs. But the result turned out to be a match Kitchee would rather forget as they could do little against a solid and speedy Arema defence. In front of about 3,000 home fans, Putut Jati scored in each half to keep Dejan Antonic's side happy, taking them into the quarter-final stage. "We have learnt a great lesson tonight," said Kitchee coach Gombau "If we want to improve in next year's AFC Cup, we have to play more games with our Asian counterparts.".


Kitchee crowned league champion

Kitchee crowned league champion by trouncing Biu Chun Rangers 4-1 in the last league match of the season at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground yesterday. About 1,000 home fans who braved yesterday's heavy downpour to celebrate Kitchee's second successful league campaign in a row. However, Kitchee are aiming for their first ever treble-winning season, having also earlier won the League Cup. To do so, they still need to beat Pegasus in the FA Cup final on Saturday. On the international front, they will host Arema of Indonesia in an AFC Cup round of 16 match on Wednesday, with the winners through to the quarter-final stage. "Our first priority always remains the league championship as this is the most important domestic title," said Kitchee boss Ken Ng. "Of course, we also want to do well in the AFC Cup where we are in the knockout stage. But now we are presented with the chance for a club record treble season and the entire team don't want to miss it." In another match of the day, Tuen Mun narrowly defeated Wofoo Tai Po 3-2 to finish sixth in the final standings.


Jordi double as Kitchee qualify to the next stage

Hong Kong champions Kitchee drew 2-2 with Terengganu of Malaysia in Tseung Kwan O last night to finish top of Group F of the AFC Cup. Two first-half goals from Jordi Tarres lifted the spirits of the home fans at Tseung Kwan O sports ground, but Kitchee twice let the lead slip. Yet the result was still enough for them to top the group, thus earning home-ground advantage in the one-legged round of 16, where they will come up against Indonesia's Arema. That was Kitchee's target. "The players were unhappy that they couldn't win, but they must realise they have done well when looking at the overall picture," Kitchee president Ken Ng said. "We are in first place in the domestic competition, in the FA Cup and also still progressing in the AFC Cup." Their next date in the AFC Cup will be on May 23 when they host Arema, who pulled off a stunning upset by finishing runners-up in group H after picking up just one point from their opening four games. Ng are hoping Kitchee will have won the league and be in the FA Cup final. "We want to keep going in the AFC Cup. But winning the league takes prime importance now to earn a berth in next year's event," added Ng.


Citizen completed AFC Cup journey

Citizen saved their best performance for last as the Hong Kong side defeated Yangon United 2-1 in their final AFC Cup group G match in Myanmar yesterday. With the temperature at 40 degrees Celsius, Citizen played patiently, relying on a counter-attacking game to preserve energy. They were rewarded with goals in each half, including a smart goal by Tam Lok-hin from close range. Although the home team reduced the deficit to one goal, a determined Citizen stayed strong to the end to complete their debut AFC Cup campaign on a high note. "This is a perfect ending for the team," Citizen executive director Calvin Pui said. "Although we failed to qualify for the next round, we knew from the beginning of the tournament that that was probably out of reach. Our main target was to gain international exposure, and from this point of view we can consider ourselves winners." Citizen finished the group stage in third place with seven points after two victories, both against Yangon United, and one draw.


HKFA appointed O'Connor as technical director

The Hong Kong Football Association have appointed Steve O'Connor as the new technical director. The former head coach of the football program at the Australian Institute of Sport will take up his new post early next month. O'Connor, 57, will be tasked with improving the standards of local coaching, referee development, community and youth football activities and women's football. He will also oversee the implementation of elite player development pathways from grassroots football to senior international level. The imposing central defender, who turned out 44 times for Australia, said he is looking forward to his new role. "These are exciting times for Hong Kong football and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of a new era." Steve said.


Kitchee advances to the last 16

Kitchee booked their place in the last 16 of the AFC Cup and ended Tampines Rovers' hopes of advancing with a goalless draw against the Singapore club on Wednesday. The visitors were on top for much of an entertaining encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Kitchee had the better of the first half and they could have taken the lead in the 22nd minute when a cross from the left by Lo Chi-kwan found Lam Ka-wai, whose low sliding shot went narrowly wide. Tampines were under pressure for much of the match but they improved after the break and nearly opened the scoring in the 57th minute when Ahmad Fahmie was played down the left by Ismadi Mukhtar and went past a defender before hitting the inside of the far post with a shot from a narrow angle. With the home side pushing for the winner, Kitchee launched a counter-attack in the 80th minute that nearly paid dividends as Lam played the ball through to Chan Man-fai, whose shot from 20 metres was well saved by the keeper. "I am very pleased that we get the point and have progressed to the second stage," said Kitchee coach Josep Gombau. "I must congratulate Tampines Rovers for coming out strongly and playing a good hard game. It made it a good game for everyone to watch."


Citizen ends hope of advancing

A brave Citizen bid farewell to the AFC Cup following a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to visitors Home United of Singapore in group G at Mong Kok Stadium last night. The home side, who needed a victory to keep their hopes alive, were within reach of the required result until conceding a goal with only 13 minutes left. Fullback Sham Kwok-fai gave Citizen a convincing start in front of the 1,400 fans when he was free to beat the Home United goalkeeper following a neat pass from teammate So Loi-keung in the 17th minute. They maintained their hopes until the 77th minute when the opposing side's French forward Frederic Mendy hit a lucky goal to level the score. Clovis then sealed the victory for the visitors with an easy shot in stoppage time against an empty Citizen half. "The result is very disappointing as the boys put in some great effort throughout the match," said Calvin Pui Ho-wang, executive director of Citizen. "We came very close as we were leading most of the time, but just couldn't hang in there till the end.


Kitchee beat Pegasus to lift League Cup

Kitchee won the first of their two battles against TSW Pegasus yesterday, beating their fierce rivals 2-1 in the final of the Halewinner League Cup at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. In front of a 3,957 crowd yesterday, Spaniard Yago Gonzalez put Kitchee ahead in the 35th minute following a beautiful through ball from Liang Zicheng. Lo Kwan-yee added to the tally in the second half, and again it was Liang's cross that did the initial damage. Carrijo scored a late consolation for Pegasus from the penalty spot after Kitchee defender Liu Quankun had brought down Ng Wai-chiu. The 'HK Barca' collected a prize of $250,000 after the victory. "We outperformed Pegasus and deserved the victory today," said club boss Ken Ng. "We have a good rotation of players and our coach is first class. He's the one who has masterminded our success so far this season."


Citizen fights back to draw Chonburi 3-3

Citizen scored twice in stoppage time through Chiu Chun Kit and Sham Kwok Fai to keep hope alive to reach the last 16 of the AFC Cup as last night's Group G encounter ended in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Mong Kok Stadium. Citizen appeared to have a least one point to keep their hope alive to reach the next stage of the campaign. However, Scores from Natthaphong Samana, Pipob On-mo and Sukree Etae had cancelled out Yuto Nakamura's eighth-minute opener for Citizen. But after Chiu headed home in the first minute of added time, Sham bundled home a corner with the last kick of the game to disappointing the visitors. "It was a great effort from the players. We concentrated on defending in the first half because Chonburi are a strong team. In the second half we focused on attacking, but they took advantage of our mistakes and took a 3-1 lead. But we never gave up and it was a great effort," said Citizen coach Chu Kwok Kuen. Citizen will next face S-League side Home United at Mong Kok Stadium on Apr 24.


Kitchee beat Song Lam Nghe An in AFC Cup

Defending league champion Kitchee maintained a 100% record in the AFC Cup by defeating Group F opponents Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam 2-0 at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground last night. The visiting side fired the first shot of the game in the eighth minute when Cameroon forward Anicet Bebbe unleashed a shot that sailed high above the Kitchee goal. Kitchee took the lead shortly afterwards when a corner from the home side found the head of forward Chu Siu-ki. The ball then landed in front of teammate Zeshan Rehman and the Kitchee star defender calmly headed the ball into the visitors' net. The Vietnamese visitors came out positively in the second half but to no avail. Kitchee extended their lead in the 74th minute when captain Chu showed his class by coolly chipping the ball over the Song Lam Nghe An goalkeeper and into the net, giving the home side a 2-0 winning margin.


Pegasus hold advantage in title race

TSW Pegasus were the biggest beneficiaries after Kitchee were held to a 2-2 draw by South China in a tense BMA First Division game at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground last night. Kitchee only had themselves to blame after going into a two-goal lead. Lam Ka-wai drew first blood in the first half before Yago Gonzales added to the tally in the opening stages of the second half. Giovane's header in the 73rd minute then pulled one back for the Caroliners before second half substitute Martins Dhiego found the equaliser with just three minutes to go. Kitchee remain at the top of the table on 33 points, two points clear of Pegasus, but the defending champions have already played 15 matches, two more than Pegasus with only three matches remaining. South China stayed in third place with 28 points but their chances also look faint as they have also played one more match than Pegasus, but are three points behind them. Kitchee coach Josep Gombau admitted the advantage of Pegasus in the title race. "If they win the next two matches, they would be four points clear of us and it will be difficult for us to catch them." said Gombau.


Citizen beat Yangon United with last-gasp goal

Captain Festus Baise's late goal gave Citizen a sensational 2-1 win over Yangon United last night in their first victory in the AFC Cup. An acrobatic strike from Serbian forward Milan Jovanovic five minutes after the hour mark appeared to have earned Yangon a second draw of the campaign after cancelling out Brazilian defender Helio's 51st minute header for Citizen. With the match heading for a 1-1 draw, Festus made no mistake when he was free on the left to power home a low drive with one minute to go, inspiring fans into cheers at Mong Kok Stadium. The win revitalised Citizen's hopes in their first regional cup campaign. But they are now third in the four-team group, with three points from two matches - just one behind leaders Chonburi of Thailand. "Our team performance was very good, especially in the second half," said Citizen coach Chu Kwok Kuen. "Despite the win, we will stick to the plans we made at the start of the season and not put too much pressure on the players as we want them to gain experience to make our team stronger."


Arsenal set to play Kitchee in Summer

Arsenal are to play in Hong Kong for the first time in 17 years as part of the club's pre-season tour of Asia, the Premier League giants confirmed. Arsene Wenger's side will face domestic league champions Kitchee at Hong Kong Stadium on July 29 following an earlier friendly against Manchester City in Beijing on July 27. "It's great that Arsenal are visiting Hong Kong again after 17 years," chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. "We have many followers in Hong Kong and it's wonderful that these special fans will have an opportunity to see the first team live in action."  The organisers have yet to fix ticket prices as they are still holding discussions with potential sponsors. Arsenal's last visit to the city in 1995 was notorious for an incident involving midfielder Ray Parlour, who was arrested and fined after an altercation with a taxi driver.


Kitchee get off to a winning start

Liang Zicheng hits a brace as Kitchee start AFC Cup with emphatic 3-1 win over S-League side Tampines Rovers in the Group F encounter at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground yesterday. After Liang's third-minute opener, the visitors levelled through Mohamed Jamil Ali in the 20th minute with a fine header, but Kitchee stepped up a gear in the second half with Liang scrambling home his second in the 62nd minute and then Jordi beating the offside trap to find the net four minutes later. Kitchee could have earned a bigger margin of victory if they had not missed a penalty after Jordi blasted his spot kick over the bar in the 32nd minute. However, Kitchee head coach Josep Gombau warned his team not to read too much into the team's performance, emphasising there were many tough matches ahead. "We're very happy of course, but the AFC Cup only started today and we need to concentrate on all our games." said the Spanish coach.


SSP, Sapling shock league giants

Sham Shui Po and Hong Kong Sapling made shock results in week 12 of the BMA First Division League. Although both team were formed by young players, dividend was paid for their hard efforts when they draw title chasers TSW Pegasus and South China respectively. For the match between Sapling and Pegasus, last minute goal from Carrijo helped Pegasus to draw Sapling 2-2 on Friday night. For another match, South China were surprisingly held by bottom side Sham Shui Po 1-1 at Hong Kong Stadium. Lau Cheuk-hin's free-kick in the 80th minute helped Sham Shui Po to get a point from the Caroliners. After surprising results created by Sham Shui Po and Sapling, both teams had the same point but Sham Shui Po ahead Sapling with better goal difference. South China boss Steven Lo admitted that he had little to do with the team against Sham Shui Po, especially they missed captain Chan Wai-ho, who picked up an injury for Hong Kong representative team on Wednesday.


Siu Ki nets hat trick as Hong Kong thrash Taipei 5-1

Hong Kong rode a quick-fire start to defeat Chinese Taipei 5-1 at Mong Kok Stadium last night in coach Ernie Merrick's first match in charge. Striker Chan Siu-ki scored two goals in the opening five minutes to open the floodgates before completing his hat- trick in the 81st minute with a tap-in from a Lo Kwan-yee pass. The hosts looked to be cruising as midfielder Lee Hong-lim gave them a 3-0 lead before Chinese Taipei pulled one back on the stroke of half-time through a Kuo Yin-hung header. But the visitors' revival proved short-lived as substitute Chan Man-fai made it 4-1 two minutes after the restart. The performance brought a smile on the face of Merrick, a two-time Australian A-League Coach of the Year who took over as SAR coach in January. While he was happy to see his players score five goals, Merrick said he was more delighted with the team execution as they adapted the attacking style he preferred. "This is a good start for the players, the sport and the new management under the government's Project Phoenix to revitalise the game. Chinese Taipei are not a very strong team, but we look forward to improved performances by the team under the new coach so that we can challenge stronger nations of the region in the near future."


Pegasus beat Kitchee with last-gasp goal

TSW Pegasus defeated defending league champions Kitchee 2-1 with a last-gasp goal in a thrilling BMA First Division clash yesterday. Spanish striker Yago Gonzalez put Kitchee ahead in a closely contested first half, tapping home a timely cross from Chan Man-fai. Chan then came close to adding to the tally, firing from 20 metres out, but his shot was tipped off the bar by Pegasus goalkeeper Hisanori Takada. But Pegasus soon levelled the score in the opening stages of the second half. Eugene Mbome's weak drive from outside the box came with little danger, but it took a deflection off Fernando Recio to beat the goalkeeper. Afterwards, Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng was the culprit of the day as his own goal in injury time cheered the 2,300 home fans at Yuen Long Stadium. Pegasus coach Chan Hiu-ming admitted the result came with a bit luck. "Our two goals were a bit fortunate and in fact we did not play very well in the first half." In another match of the day, Sham Shui Po held home side Tuen Mun to a goalless draw to earn only their second point of the season. The result, however, moved them off the bottom of the table as they are now one place ahead of Hong Kong Sapling thanks to a better goal difference.


Merrick named a 27-men training squad

New national team coach Ernie Merrick named 27 players as the training squad for his debut in the international friendly against Chinese Taipei at Mong Kok Stadium on February 29. Included in the list were experienced striker Chan Siu-ki of South China, Godfred Karikari of TSW Pegasus, Lam Ka-wai of Kitchee and defender Ng Wai-chiu of TSW Pegasus. Six players were also summoned for the first time - Tsang Chi Hau, Fong Pak-lun, Huang Yang, Liang Zicheng, Lau Cheuk-hin and Liu Songwei. "I・ve selected the squad based on what I・ve seen in those matches and the next step is for me to get a closer look at these players in training." said Merrick. "I・ve gone for a squad that mixes experience with youth and I・m very much looking forward to working with the players for the first time." The Scotland-born Merrick, took up his new role as the Hong Kong National Head Coach last month after a hugely successful coaching career in Australia.


Kitchee reclaim top spot

Kitchee Kicked off the Year of Dragon in convincing fashion after beating Sun Hei 2-1 in the BMA First Division at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. In front of over 2,000 supporters, Mamadou Barry put Sun Hei ahead in the 22nd minute when he beat keeper with a powerful right footer, but Jordi levelled for Kitchee five minutes later, collecting a timely pass from newly joined Yago on the right and slotting home from near the post. In the 44th minute, Yago scored the winning goal just before half-time after a neat exchange between Jorge Tarres and Lam Ka-wai on the right. The victory sent the defending champions back to the top of the standings on 23 points, two ahead of TSW Pegasus, while Sun Hei remain fifth place on 17 points. "This is a good start and I hope we can keep the momentum going because there's still a long way to go," said Kitchee president Ken Ng.


Kezman decided to hang up boots

Former Serbia International Mateja Kezman decided to hang up his boots after South China suffered a penalty shootout loss to Guangzhou R&F at the Asian Challenge Cup last night, leaving the hosts at the bottom of the four-team tournament. Thousands of fans farewell to the Serbian star despite of his missing in the penalty shootout. "When one day you wake up and find no passion to go to training, you know it's time to end your career," Kezman said. "My mission as a footballer come to an end, it's time to start something new, maybe become a scout, agent or coach, and help some young players." South China chairman Steven Lo had conducted a warm celebration for the retirement of Kezman last night. "We are honored to have Kezman retire in Hong Kong, this is glorious for South China," he said. In another match of the night, Seongnam Ilhwa won the competition after thrashing J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse 5-1 in the final.


Kezman ready for Hong Kong swan song

Serbian star striker Mateja Kezman will finish his glittering career in Hong Kong after playing for South China in the Asian Challenge Cup next week. "Kezman likes Hong Kong very much and has had a lot support from fans during his time here," South China chairman Steven Lo said. "This is an honour for Hong Kong football. We will arrange some activities for him on the second day of the tournament, which will be Mateja's last match as he bids farewell to a career of almost two decades. We will reserve the number 38 jersey he used in Hong Kong." Kezman played for South China last season alongside former Manchester United midfield star Nicky Butt before coming off a stint with BATE Borisov, playing in five Champions League games.  Kezman will return tomorrow to reinforce South China's squad for the popular holiday showpiece to be played on Monday and Thursday. South China face J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse at 6.30pm on Monday for a place in the final, with Guangzhou R&F taking on K-League outfit Seongnam Ilhwa in the 4pm opener. The winners of the two matches will face off in Thursday's final.


Rehman signs for Kitchee

Former Fulham defender Zesh Rehman has joined defending league champions Kitchee on an 18-month deal from Thailand's Muang Tong United. Rehman, who is British-born but plays for Pakistan at international level, made English football history in 2004 when he became the first Asian player to start for a Premier League club by playing for Fulham against Liverpool. He was later sent on loan by the west London side before joining QPR, Brighton & Hove Albion and then Bradford City, earning himself a reputation as a solid centre-back on the field and vocal anti-racism campaigner off it. His move to Kitchee follows a year with Thailand's Muang Thong United, managed by Liverpool great Robbie Fowler. "I am looking forward to getting started with new club Kitchee in Hong Kong." Rehman said. Kitchee will hope Rehman's signature can help them to a strong run in this year's AFC Cup.


Yapp the hero as Hong Kong lift Guangdong Cup

Hong Kong beat Guangdong XI 5-4 on penalties to lift the 34th Hong Kong-Guangdong Cup after a goalless 120 minutes in the second leg on Sunday. Goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai was the hero, saving three spot-kicks to give acting coach Liu Chun-fai a farewell gift at Huizhou Olympic Stadium. Liu will handover his job to new appointing coach Ernie Merrick next week. "I'm so happy for our team." Liu said. "Our team really tried their best win the cup." After a 2-2 draw at Hong Kong Stadium three days ago, both sides were urged to open the scoring in the return leg. However, both sides produced few bright moments in the first half. Hong Kong had the better game and looked more dangerous in attack, but failed to find the back of the net against a stubborn Guangdong defence. Both sides played out a goalless draw after 120 minutes. In the penalty shootout, Yapp Hung-fai was the hero as he saved three sport-kicks to give Hong Kong a 5-4 win over Guangdong after shootout.


Merrick appointed as the head coach of Hong Kong team

The Football Association confirmed the appointment of Ernie Merrick as the new national team coach. The 58-year-old Scot previously managed Melbourne Victory for six years. However, he was sacked by Victory in March after leading them to suffer a shock 5-1 defeat at the hands of Gamba Osaka in the Asian Champions League. The status of Merrik was ensured by the Australians as he leaded Victory won the Australian A-League twice during his tenure. He was also elected as the coach of the year in Australian for two times. Merrick will start working in his new position early next month. The Association's chief executive, Gordon McKie expecting a "hands-on" coach who can work closely with the senior side while developing youth players. "I feel extremely privileged and honoured to have the opportunity and over the last few weeks I have been hugely encouraged to learn about the exciting plans to develop and grow football in Hong Kong," said Gordon.


Joel helps the Caroliners to beat Kitchee

The league title race was thrown wide open after South China defeated champions Kitchee 2-0 at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. Defender Joel Bertoti Padilha scored in each half in front of a 4,000-strong crowd, including one from the penalty spot awarded after he was brought down by Kitchee defender Daniel Cancela midway through the second half. "We did a good job to stop them in midfield and we never allowed them any space," said Joel. "Also, we did not make mistakes in defence." Coupled with Sunray Cave Sun Hei's surprise 3-2 defeat by Citizen on Friday, TSW Pegasus now head the table on 18 points, one ahead of Sun Hei and Kitchee, who both tasted defeat for the first time in the league this season. The Caroliners are on 16 points in third place, followed by Citizen, who are on 14 points. In another match of the day, Biu Chun Rangers had striker Sandro to thank after his four goals helped them to a 4-0 win over Hong Kong Sapling at Tsing Yi Sports Ground.


Citizen crash out of Senior Shield

Defending champions Citizen crashed out of the Canbo Senior Shield quarter-finals after losing to visiting Tuen Mun 2-1 at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. The vistors was directed by acting coach Yan Lik-kin as their head coach Dejan Antonic was serving a five-game touchline ban. In front of a crowd of 1,360, Citizen, who defeated powerhouses South China in the final last season, had most of possession early on but lacked the finishing. Citizen were under pressure when Tuen Mun's Milutin Trnavac scored from the penalty spot in the 34th minute after midfielder Festus Baise handled the ball. Bhengu came close to finding the net midway through the second period but his shot hit the upright. But he made no mistake with his late winner in the end. "We defended well throughout the match and just waited for the chance to kill them off," said Tuen Mun's acting coach Yan Lik-kin. "Even after we conceded the late goal, we were still confident of going through as we just needed one chance and I am very happy the boys made it."


Mckie appointed as the chief executive of HKFA

Former Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Gordon McKie is in line to lead a major overhaul of football in Hong Kong after being confirmed as the chief executive of the Hong Kong Football Association. The FA confirmed last night that he has signed a three-year contract for the newly-created position. McKie worked with the Royal Bank of Scotland from 2002-05. His first stepped into the world of sport when he was appointed to the chief executive・s position at Scottish Rugby Union. During his work in SRU, he successful to bring financial stability to the union. The appointment of Mckie is a major initiative of the government's "Project Phoenix", which was a comprehensive plan to revive Hong Kong football from grassroots to the international level. "We are delighted to bring McKie on board, especially in view of his background and experience," said HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak. "With his appointment, we can press ahead with Project Phoenix to revive the game in Hong Kong.


Russia-Hong Kong trill fans at new stadium

A crowd of 6,000 turned up at Mong Kok Stadium last night as Russia U19 beat hard-fought Hong Kong U21 2-1 to celebrate the first international match after reopening of Mong Kok stadium. The stadium was re-opened with a new look in mid-October, which has long been the major venue for the local football games. With its modern facilities after the redevelopment, the stadium is better equipped for staging high-level and international football matches, contributing to the long-term development of local football. For the friendly last night, Torpedo Moscow young defender Artem Samsonv opened the scoring for Russia in the 24th minute. Five minutes after the break, dividend paid to Hong Kong youths for their great effort when Chan Siu-kwan met a free kick from Tsang Kin-fong and headed into the post. After levelled the scoring, Hong Kong youths continue to give pressure on the defence of visitors. However, Hong Kong conceded a penalty in the 66th minute after a careless mistake of captain Leung Kwun-chung. Andrey Panyukov's scored in without mistake. In the last minute of the game, Chan Siu-kwan could score again for the host but his close-range shot was saved by the keeper.


James made Birmingham reserves appearance

Hong Kong under-23 international midfielder James Ha, who has been training at Wast Hills, made a substitute appearance for Birmingham City reserves as they lost a couple of late goals in a friendly at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Middlesbrough-born James is in England studying and was invited for a trial at Wast Hills, which is owned by Hong Kong tycoon Carson Yeung. James still have a contract with Kitchee. An officials of Kitchee said it will not stand in his way if Yeung's Birmingham City decides to recruit James. The game was notable for the debut of Hong Kong youngster James Ha at Wast Hills, who came through an hour unscathed. James proved his talent and tried to threaten the defence of Wolves. However, it was an unfortunate day for Birmingham, which disappointed reserve boss Richard Beale as they lost to Wolves 2-0.


Kitchee rally to beat Pegasus 3-2

Two goals in the last ten minutes of the game gave Kitchee a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over TSW Pegasus at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground yesterday. Spanish midfielder Ubay Luzardo opened the scoring for the 'HK Barca' midway through the first half before Itaparica equalised for Pegasus soon after. Trailing 1-1 after first half, Jaimes McKee's goal in the 69th minute put Pegasus into a 2-1 lead and gave them hope of a second win over Kitchee in three weeks, but goals from Ubay Luzardo, his second of the match, and substitute Tsang Kam-to handed the champions a hard-earned victory. Kitchee now lead the standings with 13 points, two ahead of Sun Hei. South China are third on 10 points."It was a very difficult situation when we were 2-1 down in the second half." said Kitchee boss Ken Ng. "The boys did fantastically well ... They never gave up and kept trying." In another match of the day, Tuen Mun thrashed Sham Shui Po 6-2 at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.


Sun Hei's goalfest at new stadium

A crowd of 4,500 turned up at Mong Kok Stadium as Sun Hei celebrated the reopening of the stadium with a sensational 5-0 victory over Sham Shui Po in the BMA First Division yesterday. After 18 minutes of play, Cheng Siu-wai scored the first goal at the revamped venue, which has undergone a two-year, HK$275 million facelift, while striker Mamadou Barry added to the tally before the half-time whistle. Fullback Pak Wing-chak powered home a 20-metre shot shortly after the break before Barry netted two more times to score his first hat-trick of the season. "It's great to return to Mong Kok and score a goal," said Cheng. "The atmosphere was great and a lot of people told me they would come to watch matches at the new venue. Many of them have fond memories of this place and they are happy to be back." In another match of the day, TSW Pegasus' perfect winning record ended when they lost 3-1 to Wofoo Tai Po at Tai Po Sports Ground.


Hong Kong defend Long Teng Cup

Hong Kong won the Long Teng Cup for the second consecutive time after thrashing Chinese Taipei 6-0 in Kaohsiung yesterday. Hong Kong was last's year winner but they played out disappointing results in their first two games against Philippines and Macau. While some people worried about the city may struggle to recover from their shock 3-3 draw with the Philippines earlier, they dominated throughout against the host. In-form striker Chan Siu-ki opened the scoring after 15 minutes, winger Lee Hong-lim also found the net twice. After the victory, Hong Kong have made seven points in three games, having defeated Macau by 5-1 and achieving a 3-3 draw with the Philippines. In another match of the day, Philippines finished runner-up after beating Macau 2-0. Hong Kong striker Chan Siu-ki was elected as the most valuable player of the tournament.


Caroliners bounce back at Sham Shui Po

South China recovered from their disappointing start of the season after beating Sham Shui Po 2-0 in the BMA First Division yesterday. In front a crowd of 2,200 spectators at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, South China coach Jan Kocian sent out an attack-minded formation in a bid to catch the host as soon as possible. Those tactics paid off when the Caroliners took an early lead after six minutes through a header of Wellingsson Souza. Seven minutes later, the Caroliners extended their advantage when their new signing Dyron Daal met a nice pass from Xu Deshuai and scored from a close range. After the restart, Sham Shui Po came close a few times with some quick counter-attacks but failed to find the back of the net. On the other hand, Kocian tried to spark his team by sending Au Yeung Yiu-chung and Giovane on the pitch. They came close in the 64th minute when Dyron Daal's quick shot was punched away by keeper Chan Ka-ki. South China managed to maintain their two-goal advantage throughout an entertaining second half. In another match of the day, defending champions Kitchee climbed up to the second of the table after beating Wofoo Tai Po 4-2 at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground.


South China suffer home defeat to Tuen Mun

South China suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Tuen Mun in the BMA First Division yesterday. Goals by South African striker Makhosonke Bhengu and midfielder Milutin Trnavac put the guests 2-0 up before South China's Wellingsson Souza netted a late consolation goal in their first league match of the season. After Nicky Butt and Majeta Kezman left the club, South China new coach Jan Kocian brought several new faces such as Netherlands striker Dyron Daal and Japanese midfielder Paris Yui Nakajima to the club. On the other hand, Tuen Mun also successfully invited South African striker Makhosonke Bhengu, who were also last year's league top scorers to join the club. In the initial exchanges, the Caroliners did not have much advantages against their opponent, who were using the tactic of counter attack. South China fell behind to a stunning goal from Serbian midfielder Milutin Trnavac, whose 30-yard free kick shot dipped beyond Yapp Hung-fai in the 12th minute. It was a hard fought game for the Caroliners when Makhosonke Bhengu met a nice pass from Mirko Teodorovic and dove a header from close range to double the advantage for the visitors in the 38th minute. The Caroliners played brightly after made changes in the second half. They were gained from Wellingsson Souza's late header. However, it was the celebration night of Tuen Mun as they can beat the Caroliners for the first time and bagged full point at Hong Kong stadium.


Now TV launch local football channel

A deal of local football channel has been announced between Now TV and HKFA yesterday. According to the announcement, Now TV will launch a 24-hour football channel aiming to provide live broadcast of all local matches including BMA First Division and cup competitions in channel 634. Fans will have to subscript Now TV's Mega Sports Pack if they want to watch all live matches. The channel will also cover team news, player interviews and match previews. It is expected that the cooperation between Now TV and HKFA will increase the commercial value the Hong Kong league and also increase the attractive of local football. "The 24-hour channel is a major step in further promoting the game," said South China boss Mr. Steven Lo. "We hope more fans and commercial sponsors will be attracted through this new platform so the sport can grow steadily." The channel will have live coverage of South China's match against Tuen Mun at Hong Kong Stadium this Saturday.
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Sun Hei hold Kitchee in league opener

Defending champions Kitchee fought back from a goal deficit to hold Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei 1-1 in the opening match of BMA First Division League yesterday. In front of 1,700 supporters at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Kitchee played aggressively in the initial exchanges. However, the best chance of the first period fell to Sun Hei. Mamadou Barry's fury striker was saved by keeper Wang Zhenpeng. In the 20th minute, Leung Tsz-chun opened the account for Sun Hei through a half volley in the box. Just two minutes after the break, veteran striker Losada Roberto pulled one back for the 'HK Barca' through a penalty Kick. In the remaining time, both sides have equal chances but neither could breach each other's resolute defence.


BMA becomes title sponsor of First Division

Sports management company BMA Sports has been named as the title sponsor of the 2011-12 Hong Kong First Division League, which is set to begin on September 3. :BMA sports signs up as title sponsor of the 2011-2012 First Division League,; said Brian Leung, Chairman of the HKFA. "We are pleased to continue our cooperate relationship with HKFA since last season," said BMA chairman Steven Lo. "I hope the sponsors can promote our brand ... " The sponsors included the prize of $500,000 for the league champion. The runner-up and third place also receive a prize of $120,000 and $30,000 respectively. Besides, prize for the top scorer and footballer of the year was also increased. The 2011-12 First Division League will kick off on September 3, with defending champion Kitchee face Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground.


Chelsea win Barclays Asia Trophy

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas can look forward to the new Premier League season with confidence after his side won the Barclays Asia Trophy with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa in the final. Chelsea had started their pre-season with unconvincing victories but managed to put together a dominating display last night at Hong Kong stadium. In front of a crowd of almost 39,000 fans, Josh McEachran opened the scoring for Chelsea in just over 30 seconds from the first whistle. In the second half, Fernando Torres came on as a substitute and doubled the advantage for Chelsea in the 58th minute. Villa, on the other hand, was difficult to find a way to past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Earlier, Goals from Mauro Formica, David Dunn and Nick Blackman helped Blackburn Rovers to beat Hong Kong champion Kitchee 3-0 and finish third in the Barclays Asia Trophy. "We played very well tonight. Perhaps it was because the opponents did not pressure us as hard as Chelsea did, so we could find more space to move and pass the ball," said Kitchee midfielder Huang Yang.


Hong Kong end hope of World Cup 2014

Saudi Arabia scored four goals in the last 20 minutes at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground last night ended Hong Kong's hope to progress to the third qualifying round of 2014 World Cup. Saudi Arabia took a healthy three-goal cushion to Hong Kong following their first-leg win in Dammam and the Saudis extended their advantage when Hassan Fallatah scored in the 34th minute. Hong Kong held out until the 71st minute, when skipper Mohammed Noor scored from the spot after Hong Kong had been reduced to ten men with the sending-off of Leung Chun Pong. The Saudis numerical superiority told as the three-time AFC Asian Cup winners added three more goals. Nassir Al Shamrani, scorer of two in the first leg, made it 3-0 on the night just two minutes after Noor's penalty and Mohammed Al Sahlawi added the fourth in the 78th minute before Osama Hawsawi completed the win two minutes into stoppage time. "Our players lost of concentrate after Leung was sent off," Hong Kong coach Liu Chun-fai said. "Our players are inexperience in the international level. I hope this will be improved in the future."


Aston Villa face Chelsea in Asian Trophy final

Didier Drogba scored twice as Chelsea scored a comfortable 4-0 win over league champion Kitchee last night to set up a Barclays Asia Trophy final against Aston Villa. In front of a crowd 33,967 attendance, Chelsea dominated at a packed Hong Kong Stadium but had to wait until the 36th minute to open the scoring, when Frank Lampard converted from the penalty spot after Yossi Benayoun was brought down by Gao Wen. Solomon Kalou had earlier headed against the post following a brilliant cross from Drogba, who also had a shot saved late in the first half when his thundering free kick from 45 yards was blocked by goalkeeper Wang Shenpeng. Drogba scored four minutes into the second half from Florent Malouda's cross into the six-yard box. The Ivory Coast international netted his second in the 60th minute when he headed home another superb Malouda cross from close range. Second-half substitute Daniel Sturridge got Chelsea's fourth goal with a fine individual effort in the 77th minute. Kitchee head coach Joseph Gombau admitted his side had been thoroughly outplayed. "The Hong Kong league is not so strong ... you can't compare our side with Chelsea," he said. "We didn't see a lot of the ball but still it was a great experience and we learned a lot." In another match of the day, Darren Bent scored in the 50th minute to help Aston Villa edged Blackburn Rovers 1-0 and advanced to Saturday's deciding match in the four-team tournament.


South China appoint Kocian as new coach

South China have confirmed Jan Kocian will be the club's new coach next season. Kocian, the national team manager of Slovakia from 2006 to 2008, was sacked by Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Sainty in May after only five games. He will arrive next month to help revive South China after a disappointing season. "He has vast experience in Europe and was the national team manager of Slovakia and assistant team manager of Austria. We are impressed by many of his ideas, which will bring a new outlook for the team." said South China chairman Steven Lo. Kocian will pay special attention to his players' physical condition, which was called into question after South Korean coach Kim Pan-Gon left last December. The Slovak will also introduce more advanced training methods to the club. Lo would not disclose details of Kocian's salary, but it is believed his annual package is worth over one million Hong Kong dollar. "Our new budget will be reduced following the departure of the two former Premier League stars - Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman, but it will still be over twenty million Hong Kong dollar in order to challenge for all domestic titles," said Lo.



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