Caroliners and Dickies in Cup final showdown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 May, 1999, 12:00am

Defending champions Instant-Dict take on fierce rivals South China tonight in the FA Cup final looking to retain their title and salvage something from a disappointing season.

A series of unexpected defeats left Instant-Dict fighting to avoid relegation and although they did more than enough to survive the drop, it has been a season the reigning league champions would probably rather forget.

Tonight's match presents the last chance for them to snatch glory this season.

Their opponents South China will be looking to complete a knockout double after they won the Senior Challenge Shield back in October.

Instant coach Koo Luam-khen is hoping things will turn around for his charges at Hong Kong Stadium, the same venue where they gave English Premier League giants Chelsea a run for their money before losing 2-1 in the California Red Challenge Cup three days ago.

'Our performance against Chelsea has boosted our confidence because we were not expected to lose by just one goal. We gave Chelsea a hard time and it was the perfect prep match before meeting South China,' said Koo.

'We will have to increase our tempo and step up the attack because that's the only way we can win in a cup final.

'We are more or less at full strength, but it's going to be an extremely hard game for us.' South China will be looking to pick themselves up after going through the agony of losing to rivals Happy Valley in the league grand final two weeks ago.

The Caroliners, who were poor in the first phase of the championship, were much improved in the later stages of the campaign.

But when they came to the crunch clash with Valley, it was a game too far. Valley emerged victorious to lift their first league title in 10 years by winning the shootout 8-7 after the teams were level 1-1 at the end of extra-time.

South China and Instant-Dict have played each other three times this season with the Caroliners emerging victorious once when they beat Instant-Dict 5-3 on penalties in the Hong Kong-Guangdong Challenge Cup in March.

The other encounters ended in draws in the league (2-2 and 1-1).

South China received a blow on Sunday when Venezuelan forward Fernando Ornelas returned home to receive treatment on his troubled knee.

Ornelas is hoping to be fit to be called up for national duty for this summer's Copa America tournament. 'It's a bit of a blow to us but we have to do without him and concentrate on the match. We need to be on our toes against Instant-Dict, who have been playing well lately,' said South China coach Casemiro Mior.

TEAMS South China (likely): 1-Mick Leonard; 2-Yau Kin-wai, 19-Jose Ricardo Rambo, Cristiano Cordeiro, 18-Leung Chi-wing; 11-Lee Kin-wo, 16-Shum Kwok-pui, 13-Chan Chi-hong, 5-Ailton De Araujo; 7-Au Wai-lun, 10-Ricky Cheng Siu-chung.

Instant-Dict (likely): 23-Chung Ho-yin; 2-Auyeung Ying-tsz, 4-Tim O'Shea, 26-Dejan Antonic, 3-Chan Hon-fai; 9-Ivica Raguz, 11-Tam Siu-wai, 25-Glyn Hodges, 18-Yeung Hei-chi; 21-Tim Bredbury, 11-Yiu Hok-man.