Caroliners hope to cross Valley into title land

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 April, 1996, 12:00am

The Hong Kong First Division title beckons for the territory's most popular club, South China, who will have the championship virtually sewn up if they beat Happy Valley in their penultimate match at Mongkok Stadium tonight.

A win will steer the Caroliners two points clear of closest rivals Instant-Dict from the same number of games but more importantly, it will put them in a title-clinching position as they play bottom side Club in their last game in the second phase next Tuesday where anything less than a win would be unthinkable.

Even if Instant-Dict beat Mansion - who needed a penalty to beat the same opposition 1-0 in the San Miguel FA Cup quarter-finals last month - to complete their league campaign on Friday, it will not be enough to threaten South China who will be two points clear at the end of the second phase standings if they complete their league campaign with victories.

The title will be automatically handed to South China who won the first phase of the competition last December.

South China are riding high after reaching the FA Cup final by blasting past Uhlsport-Rangers 5-2 in last Sunday's semi-final at the Hong Kong Stadium. The win did have its price as both defender Ku Kam-fai and midfielder Shum Kwok-pui have picked up injuries and are doubtful for tonight's crunch match.

Happy Valley's form has dropped off significantly after looking like title contenders in February.

They could only manage a 1-1 draw with Club in the league last month and their poor form continued when they lost 2-1 to Mansion in the first round of the FA Cup in their last outing.

Happy Valley lost to South China twice last November - 3-0 in the first round of the league and 3-0 in the first round of the Shield.