Citizen rescue pride with Yangon win
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, though the first, in the sixth minute, was an own goal by Yangon captain Khin Maung Lwin.
Although the home team reduced the deficit to one goal and came close to equalising on a number of occasions, including an effort that was ruled offside in stoppage time, 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 Ho-wang 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.
'We have learned a lot from our group opponents and that will surely benefit us in domestic competitions.'
Pui praised his players for keeping focused throughout the 90 minutes yesterday despite the scorching heat. 'The weather was a big obstacle and the conditions were so demanding that more than half the team were hit by muscle cramps by the end,' he said. 'Some of them even suffered dehydration.
'This was a brand new experience for them and it is one which I am sure will make them better and stronger players in future.'
Citizen finished the group stage in third place with seven points after two victories, both against Yangon United, and one draw.
But they were also the only team to defeat Yangon in Myanmar: Chonburi of Thailand and Home United of Singapore, the two teams in the group who qualified for the round of 16, had to settle for draws when they visited.
Yangon coach Eric Williams said his side had created a lot of chances and blamed bad luck for their failure to convert any. 'We were missing three of our overseas players and three other regulars were suspended for the game,' he said. 'The first goal was an own goal and there is not much you can do about that but we did create a lot of chances afterwards that we failed to take.'
Tam Lok-hin scored for Citizen eight minutes after the break to put Yangon under pressure. The home team hit back in the 64th minute through Yan Aung Kyaw, and their Myanmar international, Kyi Lin, hit the post four minutes later.