Valley seek revenge against Kitchee in final
Happy Valley are looking for sweet revenge when they take on arch-rivals Kitchee in the League Cup final at Mong Kok Stadium this afternoon.
The match is a repeat of last year's showdown when Kitchee lifted the title with a 4-3 victory, thanks to a last-minute volley from midfielder Wilfred Bamnjo. But before Valley players take to the field today, they must forget their last encounter with Kitchee at the same venue two weeks ago when they went down 5-0 in the league - their biggest defeat of the season.
However, Valley coach Lo Kai-wah promised it would be a different story today. 'We were already out of league title contention before that match and the players had to prepare for an AFC Cup away tie and the League Cup semi-final against Sun Hei the following week.
'Though the poor result was totally out of our expectations, it was not the end of the world,' said the coach.
'The players have learnt their lesson and are eager to make amends against Kitchee, especially as we also lost to them in the same final last season. We will go all out to reverse the score.'
Lo said his side's team spirit was high after two consecutive wins last week and the players were approaching top form in their build-up to the final. Valley first beat New Radiant in an away AFC Cup group match in the Maldives and then edged out Sun Hei in the League Cup semi-finals, though they only won after a penalty shootout.
While Valley are able to field a strong squad for the final, Kitchee will miss their captain Keith Gumbs. The prolific striker, who has netted 13 goals this season, accumulated his fifth yellow card in the semi-final against South China and was automatically suspended for the next match - unfortunately it is the final.
But they are lucky to have forward Kwok Yue-hung recover in time to replace Gumbs. Kwok was brought off the pitch following a collision with South China keeper Zhang Jianzhong in their last match and was sent to hospital for a brain scan. Fortunately no major damage was found. Kwok will spearhead an attack which includes Hong Kong international Chan Siu-ki and Julius Akosah. Chan failed to score against Syria in the Olympic qualifiers on Wednesday, but the 21-year-old striker is always a big threat in domestic competitions.