Shaheen edge Club in nine-goal thriller

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2005, 12:00am

Former champions Shaheen were given a huge fright before edging Hong Kong Football Club 5-4 to almost guarantee themselves a Premier Division play-off place at Sports Road last night.

Asghar Ali scored the winning goal near the death as the Hong Kong giants finally ended Club's resistance in a nine-goal thriller played in chilly conditions.

Club had done well to come back from 3-1 down and actually led 4-3 after 53 minutes, but it was their rivals who boosted their hopes of a final four place.

Arif Ali put the Holland Cup holders ahead after 11 minutes with a superb flick from a penalty corner before Chris Marshall equalised in the 26th minute with a sweetly-struck low shot. Harinder Singh and Asghar scored two goals in quick succession for Shaheen to make the score 3-1 at half-time.

But Club picked up the pace and defended well before storming back into the game with three goals inside 18 minutes to lead 4-3. Charles Purshouse scored after a defensive blunder, skipper Brad Munt then slammed home from a penalty corner and Gurvind Dillon netted after a shot was deflected onto the post for an easy tap-in.

Shaheen, league champions in the 2002-2003 season, fought back and strikes from Asif Ali and his brother Asghar three minutes from time finally sealed the match for the club, who remain in second place behind Macau on 21 points.

Shaheen player-coach Chandran Nair breathed a sigh of relief after the match. 'We were confident we would win but we left it until the last moment. After we led 3-1, we seemed to have gone to sleep but we came back strongly in the end,' he said.

Shaheen only need to beat Pakistan Association on Sunday to assure themselves a place in the play-offs, while Club will have to battle it out with SSSC for a top four place.

Club's Marshall said: 'We did well to come back from 3-1 down. We had a good chance towards the end but their keeper saved it. We played well against a club who are essentially the national team.'