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Kim Pan-Gon appointed as Hong Kong head coach

Kim Pan-Gon has been appointed as Hong Kong head coach on a deal lasting until the end of 2015. The Korean has been caretaker coach since the departure of Ernie Merrick in November. Kim was emerged as a shining coach when he led Hong Kong to win the gold medal in the 2009 East Asia games, beat Japan in the final on penalties. After starting of the Pheonix Project, he was appointed as the head coach of the Hong Kong Football Academy. Kim admitted that his history in Hong Kong football made him advantage among fellow candidates. After the departure of Ernie Merrick, Kim was appointed as the caretaker coach and successfully to bring Hong Kong's international ranking from a historic low of 172 to 151. "Our target, of course, is to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup finals in Australia," said Kim, who led his side in practice yesterday in preparation for next week's international friendly against the Philippines. The Football Association also announced the appointment of Szeto Man-chun as the Administrative Manager of Hong Kong Representative team. Besides, Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai did not response about the chance of leaving South China yesterday as he was considering a four-year-contract offered by Chinese Super League side Guizhou Renhe.


Huang named player of the year

Kitchee midfielder Huang Yang won the Footballer of the Year Award, beating favourites Lee Chi-ho and Chan Wai-ho of league champions South China. Since joining Kitchee in 2011, Huang has already established his position at club level as well as a solid role in international football. Since being called up by former Hong Kong coach Ernie Merrick against Chinese Taipei in an international friendly in February 2012, Huang has already made 12 appearances for Hong Kong at international level. He has been a major force behind the success of Kitchee in capturing the FA Cup as well as reaching the AFC Cup quarter-finals. "Winning the award is something totally out of my expectations. When I first started at Kitchee, I only wanted to find a regular place in the team, I started thinking of helping the club win some silverware. This award has really come out of the blue." said Huang. Chan Wai-ho, who won the "favourite" award decided by public voting, had no complain after losing out to his international teammate for the top prize. Lee Chi-ho, meanwhile, also congratulated Huang winning the top prize and strongly hinted he would leave South China for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan as soon as next month.


Counago missile lands FA Cup for Kitchee

Kitchee saved their best for last to beat Sun Pegasus in the FA Cup final through a lone strike from Pablo Counago at Hong Kong Stadium last night. The former Spain Under-21 international powered home from 25 metres out early in the second half, handing Kitchee a 1-0 win as well as their only silverware of the season, having surrendered the league championship to South China and defeat in the Senior Shield quarter-finals. "It's a great feeling," said Counago. "It's not only for me, but for the fans and the club." Pegasus, who also lost to Kitchee in the FA Cup final last year, had only themselves to blame for the defeat as they appeared in control before Gonzalez's goal. Striker Jaimes McKee, Igor Miovic and Deng Jinghuang all came close to scoring. "We had many chances but failed to convert. Gonzalez might not have been impressive throughout the match but he took his one chance and killed us. That was the difference," said Pegasus coach Chan Chi-hong.


Tai Po relegated after being held to a draw at Siu Sai Wan

Wofoo Tai Po's 8-year stay in the First Division League came to an end at Siu Sai Wan Stadium after they could only manage a draw with Yokohama F.C. 2-2 yesterday. The Senior Shield champions were leading 2-1 against Yokohama F.C. after Aender Naves scored in the 90th minute, a result that would have ensured their survival in the top flight. Instead, Japanese striker Kenji Fukuda scored the equaliser in stoppage, relegating Tai Po to the Second Division next season. Of the five teams who could have been relegated yesterday, Sun Pegasus were the first to escape the drop with an 8-2 drubbing of Biu Chun Rangers. Striker Jaimes McKee scored five goals. The other teams who escaped from relegation were Sunray Cave J.C. Sun Hei and Citizen - who surprising victories over league champions South China and runners-up Kitchee respectively. These results means Wofoo Tai Po had to bid farewell after eight years in the top flight in the cruellest of ways. "Please accept our apology for letting you down," said Tai Po head coach Cheung Po-chun who, with his squad, bowed deeply in contrition towards the fans at the end of the match. After the 'Judgment Day', Wofoo Tai Po finished bottom on 19 points, while Biu Chun Rangers, Sunray Cave J.C. Sun Hei, Citizen and Yokohama F.C. ended on 20 points.


Kichee reached the last 16 of AFC Cup

Kitchee reached the last 16 of AFC Cup after thrashing Warriors F.C. of Singapore 5-0 in their final AFC Cup group match. The result had no bearing on Kitchee's second place in group E, but the manner of victory underlined the influence of Josep Gombau has had. The Spanish coach will leave for Adelaide United in the A-League at the end of the season. Jordi scored a hat-trick, taking his tally to 10 in the competition, while Cheng Siu-wai and Tsang Kam-to were also on target at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. "This was a very impressive result, I expected we could win the match but not by such a big margin. A good job from the players," said Gombau. "But I still expect more from them as I want to see Kitchee win the FA Cup, reach the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup and qualify for the 2014 AFC competition before I leave." In another Group E Match, Semen Padang also booked a place in the knockout stage as they beat Churchill Brothers of India 3-1.


Kitchee hands title to the Caroliners

Kitchee handed the RedMR First Division title to rivals South China after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Sun Pegasus at Yuen Long Stadium last night. With only one match left for the season, the two-time champions now have no chance to make up the four-point gap between themselves and the Caroliners. Kitchee got off to a good start last night when Yago Gonzalez converted a six-minute penalty, but his effort was cancelled out by Deng Jinghuang 10 minutes into the second half. Kitchee staffs left the pitch soon after the match. "We introduced more young players at the beginning of the season and it seemed to have worked," said South China boss Steven Lo last night. "We have been leading the league all the way until March when we suffered two surprising defeats, allowing Kitchee to come back at us. But fortunately the players bounced back. We must avoid making the same mistakes next season."


Chan Wai-ho scores the winner against Vietnam

A capacity crowd at Mong Kok Stadium witnessed Hong Kong's 1-0 victory over Vietnam in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers last night. Captain Chan Wai-ho scored the only goal, heading home a Xu Deshuai free kick from the right with just three minutes remaining, leaving a packed crowd of 6,639 spectators in raptures. That goal kept Hong Kong's hopes alive in the tournament after the hosts held Uzbekistan to a 0-0 draw in their previous Group E game last month. Substitute Lee Hong-lim narrowly missed his target midway through the second half, but Chan saved the night at Mong Kok Stadium, which saw its first full-house since its renovation in 2011. "Tonight the players were mentally strong. We now have seven months to prepare for our next match and with the support of the fans, we will try to make history for Hong Kong." said Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-Gon. Hong Kong will play hosts to the United Arab Emirates, who beat Uzbekistan last night, in October.


Kitchee get off to a good start in AFC Cup

Kitchee got off to a flying start in the AFC Cup with a 3-0 win over Churchill Brothers of India at Mong Kok Stadium last night. Kitchee did not disappoint the 1,800-strong home crowd as Chu Siu-kei opened the scoring as soon as the 28th minute. Jordi extended the advantage for Kitchee three minutes later. Kitchee take a comfortable 2-0 led in the first half. The match switched gears when Kitchee midfielder Huang Yang was shown the exit as he collected a second booking early in the second period. Inspired by their one-man advantage, the visitors tried to claw their way back. Just as Churchill Brothers failed their attempt, Kitchee dashed their hopes of a comeback with Jordi finding his second of the night through a header following Gao Wen's free-kick. "It is important to start with a win," said Kitchee head coach Josep Gombau. "Although there is still a long way to go in the tournament, we get a good start to boost our future."


Hong Kong held Uzbekistan 0 - 0 in Asian Cup Qualifiers

A determined 10-man Hong Kong team held home side Uzbekistan to a goalless draw yesterday in a fine start to their 2015 Asian Cup qualifying campaign. The group E match in Tashkent, Hong Kong had to play defensive football against the home team in most of the time, who ranked at 56th in the world. But despite a couple of dangerous moments when Uzbekistan came close, and having to play much of the second half with 10 men after right-back Lo Kwan-yee was sent off for a straight red card, Hong Kong held firm against the Uzbek attack to escape with a precious point. "It was a difficult game, but we were able to perform well and stick to the instruction of the coach," said captain Chan Wai-ho. "Although we went down to 10 men in the second half, every player battled hard to make up the deficit and we deserved it." In another Group E match, Al Fardan's 67th minute header helped the United Arab Emirates beat Vietnam 2-1 in Hanoi.


Hong Kong defends Guangdong Cup title

Defending champions Hong Kong have won the 35th Hong Kong-Guangdong Cup in a thrilling shoot-out over Guangdong XI at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. The score was 2-1 for the home side after regulation. Bai He's first half header off a corner kick put Hong Kong ahead. Midway through the second frame, Guangdong's Shi Liang equalized on a counter attack triggered by Hong Kong's turnover at midfield. Six minutes later, substitute Kwok Kin-pong fed a beautiful low cross to Lee Wai-lim whose header found the net to put Hong Kong ahead. The half hour of extra time did not produce any goals to settle the 2-2 aggregate score (Guangdong led 1-0 in the first leg), so the competition went into penalty shootouts. The first 17 takers all found the net, the last of whom was Hong Kong's full-back Wisdom Fofo. Then Guangdong's Shi Liang, who scored in regulation for the visitors, had his spot kick punched out by keeper Yapp Hung-fai, much to the joy of well over four thousand fans in Mong Kok.


Australia qualified for the East Asian Cup finals

Australia qualified for next year's East Asian Cup finals on goal difference yesterday, edging out North Korea at Hong Kong Stadium. With North Korea beating Hong Kong 4-0 in yesterday's first match, the Australians, level on points and goal difference with the Koreans at the start of the day, had a clear target against Taiwan. Their mission was completed early as they banged in five goals in the first half, finishing 8-0 winners. It is a welcome opportunity for me to see some of the boys building for the future as our priority is to qualify for the World Cup finals," said Australia coach Holger Osieck. However, Hong Kong caretaker coach Kim Pan-Gon was disappointed by his team's performance, which saw them finish third overall. "The 4-0 score was not really acceptable," he said. "We made mistakes in some crucial moments during the match." Kim said the players had to improve their physical fitness and create better understanding among themselves as Hong Kong prepare for the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers, the first match of which is in February.


Australia edges Hong Kong 1-0 on late goal

Australia edged Hong Kong 1-0 in the East Asian Cup qualifiers at Mong Kok Stadium last night. The deciding goal coming in the 85th minute when Australia's captain Brett Emerton beat the Hong Kong defence with his skill and scored from close range. In front of a crowd 4,160 fans, Hong Kong played a short and sharp passing game last night when facing the Qantas Socceroos, who ranked 33rd in the world. In the first half, there was little action in front of goal for both sides. The first real shot coming in the 30th minute courtesy of Hong Kong's Chan Man Fai. The hosts were fired up in the second half and Lo Kwan-yee forced a early save by Australia's keeper Eugene Galekovic. Lo threatened again in the 50th minute keeping Galekovic busy with another strike. In the 63rd minute, the shots kept coming from the hosts, with Galekovic doing well to save a strike from Lee Wai-lim. Then, Australia fired back with shots from Archie Thompson and Ivan Franjic, but never really looked convincing. But it was an unlucky day for Hong Kong as Emerton finally found the net for Australia in the 85th minute. In another match of the day, North Korea thrashed Guam 5-0.


Good start for Hong Kong in East Asian Cup

Hong Kong beat Guam 2-1 in the opening match of the East Asian Cup qualifiers at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday. Cheered on by a home crowd of 3,000, Hong Kong got off to the perfect start when striker Chan Siu-ki found the target from a Lam Hok-hei cross after just 80 seconds. And it did not take too long before the prolific striker netted again. This time, on 17 minutes, he headed home a pass from Jaimes McKee. The visitors scored through Elias Merfalen 11 minutes after the break. Ryan Guy, who plays for Major League Soccer side New England Revolution, stole the ball from Lee Chi-ho and crossed for Merfalen to score. Despite getting a win, Hong Kong acting coach Kim Pan-Gon unsatisfied the performance of his players. Kim said the team must raise their game against the Australians two days later. "We definitely have to move up a gear," he said. In another match of the day, North Korea thrashed Chinese Taipei 6-1.


South China take advantage after late goal

A little luck made all the difference as South China scraped through to a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Kitchee in their Canbo Senior Shield second-round, first-leg match at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. Just as the cup tie, attended by 2,757 spectators, seemed to be heading for a goalless draw, a low drive by South China midfielder Itaparica from outside the box took a deflection off defender Liu Quankun into the net. The goal that beat keeper Wang Zhenpeng with only three minutes left, was described by Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin as "bad luck". It was the Brazilian's sixth goal of the season, and an important step in South China's bid to win the Shield after having been the losing finalists for the last two seasons. "We had control most of the time, but our finishing was too poor to deliver," said South China coach Liu Chun-fai. "Itaparica is a quality player and today he proved it again." In antoerh match of the day, Citizen gained a 1-0 advantage over defending champion Sun Hei as Festus Baise's 84th-minute header sealed their first-leg tie at the home ground yesterday.


Hong Kong snatch late draw in Malaysia

Hong Kong played out a 1-1 draw with Malaysia in an international friendly match at Shah Alam Stadium last night. Safee Sali opened the scoring for Malaysia but a poor back-pass by Aidil Zafuan Radzak allowed Lam Hok-hei to round the keeper for the equaliser two minutes from the end. Hong Kong acting coach Kim Pan-Gon maintained five players in the starting eleven who played in a heavy 3-0 defeat to Malaysia at Mong Kok Stadium one month ago while handing Birmingham-born forward Jaimes McKee his first cap. Hong Kong should have gone into the break a goal up when an unmarked Lee Hong-lim met a cross on the left but shot into the side-netting. The match badly needed a goal and it duly arrived when Safee placed his header towards an empty goal in the 58th minute. Hong Kong were reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when Lee Chi-ho was sent off for objecting to the decision of referee. Seven minutes later, Hong Kong were level when Aidil's weak backpass was picked up by Lam Hok-hei, saw both sides back on equal terms.


Kitchee 1 - 1 Tuen Mun

First Division champions Kitchee slipped in the battle to defend their title when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Tuen Mun at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground yesterday. The champions were looking for a morale boost ahead of the first leg of their Interport Club Cup clash against Shanghai on Thursday but had to settle for a point that maintains a slender two-point lead in the standings over rivals South China. Yip Tsz-chun became the toast of the visitors when he volleyed home a Kwok Wing-sun cross with 12 minutes to go, to cancel out Spaniard Jordi's effort that put Kitchee ahead in the first half. "A number of players are still struggling to find their best form and they have to show improvement soon," said Ken Ng, who is boss at Kitchee. "I am still confident we can meet the challenges ahead." Besides, the Kitchee boss refused to shed any light on the sudden departure of national team coach Ernie Merrick. "The chief executive is now handling the set-up of the Hong Kong team and he should be able to find the best solution." he said.


Hong Kong humbled 3-0 by Malaysia

Hong Kong were humbled 3-0 by Malaysia in the international friendly at Mong Kok Stadium last night. In front of a crowd 3,300 fans, it was an unpleasant experience for coach Merrick as his team played lower than their standard and made the recoqrd of biggest defeat at the hands of Malaysia since 1967. Hong Kong were missing four key players, two of them not released by their clubs. That lack of experience, especially in the six-yard box, proved decisive as Hong Kong failed to turn half-chances into goals, especially in the first half. In the 60th minute, Safee Sali opened accounts for the visitors before second-half substitutes Safiq Rahim and Ahmad Saarani added a goal each in the 81st and 90th minutes respectively. Merrick refused to be drawn into answering a question about whether he was getting full support from all the clubs. But he conceded the run-up to last night's game had been "pretty unpleasant". "I always think positively and when I think I can't make a difference, I assure you I won't be around," said Merrick.


Manchester United to play Kitchee next summer

English football giants Manchester United will play Hong Kong champions Kitchee next July, thanks to the government's Mega Events Fund helping towards the costs. Ken Ng, team boss of Kitchee, said they had yet to reach a deal with Manchester United, but it is believed the government injection would seal the deal. A source said Kitchee had intended to bring Manchester United to Hong Kong this summer, but a reported appearance fee of US$2 million scared off the domestic champions. Manchester United last visited the city in 2005 when a crowd of 34,000 watched them beat the Hong Kong team 2-0. It is believed the 19-time English champions will play three matches in Asia next summer, with the first stop in Malaysia, followed by Hong Kong before travelling to the mainland for the last match. Big names such as Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa would expect to visit the city next summer.


Late Martins goal give South China win over Kitchee

A goal in stoppage time by Martins Dheigo gave South China a thrilling 1-0 victory against arch-rivals Kitchee in a top-of-the-table clash at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. Jack Sealy's timely cross from the right flew over the keeper's head and was well met by Martins, who knocked the ball into an empty net. However, the Brazilian earned a red card after taking off his jersey in front of the home fans for celebration. "We were under huge pressure to get this win and that explains why Dheigo lost his head and took off his jersey," said South China coach Liu Chun-fai. "Luckily, there was only a minute left to play, otherwise Dheigo would have risked going from hero to zero." South China leapfrogged their rivals in the standings and now lead the way with 10 points, one ahead of Kitchee. Elsewhere, newly promoted Southern recorded their first point in the top flight after a strong comeback in the second half to force a 2-2 draw against visitors Wofoo Tai Po at Aberdeen Sports Ground.


Yokohama FC bounce back to take full points off Tai Po

Yokohama FC received a shot in the arm yesterday after they defeated home team Wofoo Tai Po 3-2 in the RedMR First Division at Tai Po Sports Ground. Coming back from a 5-2 defeat by South China in their first match last week, the newcomers showed marked improvement against the New Territories side. They took a two-goal lead after just 33 minutes through Leung Kwun-chung and Tsuyoshi Yoshitake from the penalty spot. Although Tai Po pulled one back through Alexander Akande and equalised in the second half after Aender Naves Mesquita scored from the penalty spot, a goal from Lee Ka-yiu settled the match for the visitors in the 81st minute. In another match yesterday, South China were held to a 2-2 draw by Sunray Cave Sun Hei at Mong Kok Stadium.


Easy wins for South China and Kitchee

The big guns of domestic football rolled out for the first time this season and enjoyed comfortable victories in their opening matches in the RedMR First Division League yesterday. Defending champions Kitchee showed they weren't going to surrender the league crown they have held for two straight years without a fight when they cruised past Sunray Cave Sun Hei 3-0 in the more impressive win of the day at Mong Kok Stadium. And Hong Kong giants South China, looking to return to glory days of old, came out firing on all cylinders in a neat 5-2 victory over newcomers Yokohama F.C. at Hong Kong Stadium. For the match between South China and Yokohama F.C., the Caroliners conceded the opening goal after just four minutes when Tsuyoshi Yoshitake scored and their defence was caught napping again in injury time when Lee Ka-ho eluded the defence to slot home. But the Caroliners were already in control with two goals from Itaparica, including one from the penalty spot, and one goal apiece from Martins Dhiego, Augusto Bertoldi and Lee Hong-lim. The big victory margin still disguised the fact that the Caroliners looked vulnerable. In another match of the day, new Spanish striker Jonathan Carril made an impressive debut for Kitchee. The 28-year-old got off his mark with goals in the 51st and 88th minutes. Chan Man-fai scored the other goal for the champions in the 79th minute.


Andy sign for Rangers

Rangers have confirmed to sign Andy Nägelein in the bid to challenge local rivals in the new season. Andy is a footballer born in Hong Kong. He began his career in Germany and then left to Cyprus in a short term. His usual played as a defensive midfielder primarily, but he can also be utilized as a centre back or a full back. It was believed that the signing of Andy will strengthen and rejuvenate the midfield of Rangers. After Andy returned the far east to join Chinese Super League club Shenzhen Ruby in 2011, former Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai-chung shown his interest to call him for the representative team but Tsang did not selected Andy to the final squad for some reasons. Local fans anticipated Andy will be called-up to the Hong Kong team with his good performance in Rangers in new season.


'Fragile' Gunners worry Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his side have "a lot of work to do" defensively before they are ready for the upcoming English Premier League campaign, following a 2-2 draw with Kitchee before a capacity crowd of 40,000 at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. Wenger said he was disappointed with his "fragile" defense. Daniel Rodriguez struck in the 28th minute to give the hosts a 2-1 lead after Walcott had cancelled out Yago Lopez's seventh-minute opener. Thomas Eisfeld, however, rescued a draw for the Gunners with a 78th-minute strike. "It's all about commitment. For the past four years we have used the Barcelona curriculum, we've brought in ex-Barcelona coaches and we have provided the training for free," said Ken Ng, Kitchee manager. "We will continue to do this in the future, and develop the training centre, and slowly I think that will change the future of Hong Kong football." Besides, Kitchee captain Roberto Losada decided to hang up boots after the match.


Chan to make most of second chance

Striker Chan Siu-ki is aiming to put his troubles behind him as he starts a second career playing for Chinese First Division club Guangdong Sunray Cave. The Hong Kong star confirmed yesterday in a press conference he would join the Guangdong side for 18 months. In the closing stages of last season, Chan found himself making headlines for the wrong reasons, being accused of breaching club rules by smoking in public and having affairs with various women. In late May, his contract with the Caroliners was terminated prematurely and he also withdrew from the Hong Kong team for last month's friendlies against Singapore and Vietnam. "I have let a lot of people down during this period; my former club South China, the club boss and the fans and I want to pay them back by establishing a new career in the China league." Chan will leave for Guangzhou today and is expecting to play for Sunray Cave in their home match against Wuhan on July 28. "It will take probably two weeks to regain my match fitness," he said.


Kitchee to get youth training centre

Kitchee's long-term vision of developing quality footballers took a giant step forward yesterday with the establishment of Hong Kong's first training facility dedicated to youth, which was located in Shek Mun in Shatin district. The venue, named Jockey Club Kitchee Centre, is expected to be completed in 18 months following a donation of HK$44 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. "Ever since we set up FCB Escola four years ago, we have been dreaming of a facility like this," said Ken Ng, president of Kitchee. According to the plan, the venue can accommodate four artificial turf grounds for seven-a-side football. The grounds can be converted to two competition pitches for public use or one standard-sized pitch for professional use. The centre will include a service block with facilities for changing rooms and offices. Kitchee would set aside HK$6 million a year for running the centre, half for their youth programmes and half for operating costs.


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."



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