Lunar joy for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am

Goran Stankouski's double sees local team win cup for the first time in 16 years

Hong Kong League XI beat Hajduk Split 2-1 to clinch the 2008 Lunar New Year Cup after a 16-year wait.

The Hong Kong team put on a show to remember for the few thousand fans who turned up at the Hong Kong Stadium last Sunday.

The crowd braved the cold weather and strong winds to see the local lads lift the trophy for the first time since 1992.

On the opening match on New Year's day, Hong Kong defeated Penarol from Uruguay 2-1 to book their place in the final. In the other game, Hajduk edged out Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea.

Hajduk, from Croatia, did most of the attacking in the first half.

After missing the target with a free kick in the fourth minute, Hajduk got another chance in the 15th minute. This time, Romanian international Florin Cernat sent the ball to the top left-hand corner of the net to help Hajduk take a 1-0 lead.

But the turning point came in the 61st minute when Kitchee midfielder Goran Stankouski, who came on as a substitute in the first half, nodded the ball home to make the score 1-1. Now the crowd was cheering wildly and this lifted the morale of the Hong Kong League XI who gave everything in their search for the winner.

It came five minutes before the final whistle, when Stankouski headed home from a corner taken by Santos Filho.

Hajduk launched an all-out attack towards the end, but to no avail. Hong Kong last won this tournament in 1992, when they beat Partizan Belgrade from Yugoslavia.

Hong Kong League XI coach, Jose Luis Silva, said the team were very proud of their achievement. 'We would like to dedicate this win to the Hong Kong fans,' he said.

The players received more than HK$1 million in prize money for their victory.

Also last Sunday, Penarol took third place by defeating Ulsan Hyundai 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

The turning point came when Goran Stankouski nodded the ball home to make the score 1-1