Chan answers selectors with starring role
Sun Hei keeper Chan Ka-ki answered a second snub by the Hong Kong FA in less than a month with another man-of-the-match performance in the league champions' 1-0 triumph over third-placed South China at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
A well-taken goal by substitute Wong Chun-yue in the 62nd minute, the forward's fifth of the season, moved Sun Hei back to the top of the table, a spot briefly held by Happy Valley after their 6-0 defeat of Hong Kong Football Club on Friday night.
The results virtually knocked the Caroliners out of contention for the league title as they now have 18 points, seven behind Sun Hei with three more games to play. Buler Rangers are fourth with the same number of points but have a game in hand.
Sun Hei coach Koo Luam Khen was happy with his team's performance and admitted the league was now virtually a three-horse race between Valley, Rangers and his team. 'From a statistical point of view I think our victory today has eliminated South China from the picture,' he said.
'While Valley are now only one point behind us, we still have to be very careful with Rangers as they have the easiest schedule and also a game in hand.'
His view was shared by South China team director Peter Leung Shou-chi. 'I guess with the way things were going, we should shift our focus to the other two cup competitions,' said Leung. 'I didn't think we played bad today as we were able to create many chances throughout the game. Rochi [Putiray] missed a sitter in the first half and, to his credit, Chan Ka-ki had a great game and made some crucial saves down the stretch.'
Chan was not among the three keepers named by Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai-chung in his 25-man squad for the East Asian Championship qualifiers that kick off on February 22. Last month, when Kwok Ka-ming opted for Valley's Fan Chun-yip, South China's Chun Ho-yin and Rangers' Chi-chiu Goldbert ahead of Chan for the Carlsberg Cup, the 23-year-old answered that with two crucial saves in his team's penalty shootout victory over Valley in the League Cup final.
After the teams traded futile long balls for the first half hour of the game, Chan was called into action in the 33rd minute when he blocked Chan Chi-hong's powerful half-volley from 18-yard. But Wong finally broke the deadlock at the hour mark when he latched on to a through ball by Brazilian striker Marcio Anacleto and calmly slotted a low shot past Chung.
In the day's other match, substitute striker Cheng Siu-wai's two second-half goals gave Double Flowers only their second win of the season in a 2-0 win over Fukien.