Disgraceful scenes mar Dickies' triumph as frustrated Caroliners refuse to collect runners-up medals
Instant-Dict walked away with the FA Cup. South China simply walked away.
Controversy reared its ugly head yet again yesterday in a scene that is becoming all too familiar in Hong Kong football.
Instant-Dict claimed their first trophy of the season, defeating 10-man South China 2-1 with Slovakian striker Martin Jancula grabbing the winner two minutes into injury time in a stormy finish to the Cup final at Hong Kong Stadium.
But Instant-Dict's champagne celebrations were marred by South China's bitter walk-out and vehement protests at what they claimed was 'biased' refereeing by Fong Yau-fat.
For the first time in recent memory - and quite possibly the first time in the illustrious 26-year history of the Cup - the losing team refused to collect their runners-up medals.
South China were livid at Fong's decision not to award them a free kick in injury time when midfielder Chu Yue-tai appeared to have been sandwiched between two Instant-Dict defenders just outside the penalty area.
Moments later, Fong awarded a free kick to Instant-Dict and Jancula sneaked in to score his seventh goal in five matches from the rebound. That goal was a bitter blow to South China whose players and officials surrounded Fong to vent their frustration after the final whistle. Order was only restored when security guards moved in.
As the Instant-Dict players went to collect their medals, they were verbally abused by unruly South China fans and had beer thrown on them in one of the most disgraceful shows of unsporting behaviour ever seen in Hong Kong.
But even that treatment failed to dampen the spirits of Instant-Dict who made full amends for their 1-0 loss to Yee Hope in the Senior Challenge Shield final last December.
However, the final - a dreadful match that had few lively moments - will be remembered more for its stormy finish. 'The referee . . . I don't want to talk about him,' said angry South China coach Casemiro Mior.
'In the first half, he gave three free kicks to Instant-Dict when he shouldn't have and he played three minutes instead of one minute of extra-time in the first half.
'We had a foul in injury time, but we didn't get a free kick and then they get a free kick on the counter-attack and they score from it. It's ridiculous,' said the Brazilian.
South China midfielder Gerry Laterza was more philosophical, saying: 'It's all part of the game. We can't win all our games. When we scored first, we had a chance but they scored and we had a player red-carded. It makes us angry but that's football and we don't want to be sore losers.'
Hong Kong Football Association secretary Martin Lam said the match will be reviewed and discussed at their next council meeting, but refused to say what kind of punishment could be meted out to South China.
'We must read the referee's report and discuss the case. The whole incident will be reviewed,' said Lam.
South China, last season's league and Senior Challenge Shield winners, gave Instant-Dict much to do when skipper Au Wai-lun put the Caroliners ahead in the 19th minute.
Instant-Dict were guilty of some sloppy defending when Au headed home at Xiao Guoji's left-hand post after being picked out by Cristiano Cordeiro following a long pass from Poon Man-tik.
Laterza forced Xiao into a fingertip save with a 15-yard volley five minutes later, but Ricky Cheng Siu-chung - who came in for Yeung Kin-wai at the start of the second half - equalised for Instant-Dict in the 50th minute.
The former Hong Kong Footballer of the Year flicked in a header from Tam Siu-wai's corner and teams were all level.
South China were then down to 10 men when midfielder Shum Kwok-pui was sent off for a second bookable offence following a dreadful foul on Chan Chi-kwong in the 73rd minute.
But it wasn't until injury time that Instant-Dict finally nailed the winner with Jancula scoring from the rebound after Dejan Antonic's free kick was only parried by Chung Ho-yin.
Jancula swooped in to slot it with a powerful shot from an acute angle that slipped by Chung's inside right post.