'Old boy' Antonic out to beat Kitchee
Former Kitchee coach Dejan Antonic will be leading Arema of Indonesia in an attempt to beat his former club when the two sides meet in the one-legged AFC Cup round of 16 match at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground tonight.
The Serbian is no stranger to Hong Kong soccer as he has been with TSW Pegasus, Tai Chung and Tuen Mun after quitting Kitchee in 2007. He was also briefly in charge of the Hong Kong team with joint coach Goran Paulic in 2008. He left Tuen Mun early this year due to personal reasons.
His return to Hong Kong as the Indonesian club side's coach has added to the interest in the AFC Cup tie.
'I am happy to see my former club become a top team in Hong Kong and their players like Lo Kwan-yee were under my guidance when I was in charge of the club,' he said yesterday. 'Kitchee are a strong team, especially with the arrival of their quality Spanish expatriates. But this is a one-off match and the team that can avoid making mistakes will have the better chance.
'It's been a big achievement for us to reach the last 16, but of course our target is now going further.'
Arema only made it to the knockout stage after an impressive 6-2 victory in their final group match against Navibank Saigon of Vietnam and qualified as the second-placed team with a better goal difference than the two others in the group.
Kitchee captain Chu Siu-kei said spirits were high after the team won the league championship for the second season in a row last Sunday.
'Our target is to reach the AFC Cup quarter-final stage and the players are all confident of a win,' he said.
'Although we have to play Pegasus in the FA Cup final on Saturday, and a victory will give us a record treble season, we will not have any reservations about going all-out against Arema.'
Chu was rested against Rangers in their final league match along with other key players such as Zeshan Rehman, Fernando Recio and Daniel Cancela. But all coach Josep Gombau's first choices will start tonight.