Sun Hei rocked by Cordeiro injury

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am

Xiangxue Sun Hei will attempt to put their domestic troubles behind them as they prepare for one of the most important matches in the club's history tonight.

Sun Hei, winners of four trophies last season, are in Beirut where they will take on Lebanese league champions Nejmeh Club in an AFC Cup semi-final first-leg. The second leg is back in Hong Kong on October 12.

Sun Hei club president Raymond Chow Man-leung says his men face a difficult task without two-time Hong Kong Footballer of the Year Cristiano Cordeiro, who fractured his cheekbone during last week's 3-1 victory over Al Ahed in their quarter-final second-leg.

'We are going to be slightly weaker at the back because Cordeiro has been playing very well lately and he's an experienced and talented player,' said Chow. 'But if we play to the best of our abilities, we could come away with a result.'

Nejmeh will present Sun Hei with their most difficult assignment yet. The six-times league champions and five-times Lebanon Cup winners, brushed aside Singapore club Home United 6-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

Nejmeh achieved fame at the end of the 1999-2000 season when they broke Al Ansar's Lebanese stranglehold - no mean feat when you consider that Al Ansar had won a place in the Guinness Book of Records for winning the domestic league a record 11 straight seasons.

But the big question is whether Sun Hei will be in the right frame of mind after being threatened with punishment for failing to turn up for last Saturday's first division match against Buler Rangers.

Sun Hei, who face having three points docked for their no-show, have in turn, threatened to take their case to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) if the Hong Kong Football Association decides to punish them.

Sun Hei missed the game at Mongkok Stadium because they were at the airport catching a flight to Beirut and the local club blamed the HKFA for failing to mediate after Rangers had refused to postpone the match.

It's just the kind of publicity Sun Hei weren't looking for as they attempt to emulate South China as the only local club to have had success in Asia. South China reaching the final of the now-defunct Asian Cup Winners Cup Championship in the early 90s.