Double delight for locals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am

Juventus and Manchester City fail to impress at Hong Kong Stadium

Fans of Juventus and Manchester City would have been deeply disappointed last Thursday when both leading European sides lost to local opposition at the Hong Kong Stadium.

South China Invitation team defeated the top-flight English club City 3-1, while domestic champions South China edged former Italian Serie A champions Juventus 2-1 at the Cash 10th Anniversary Soccer Day.

Juventus arrived in Hong Kong without striker Alessandro Del Piero and midfielder Pavel Nedved. Del Piero was included in Italy's provisional squad for Euro 2008, while Nedved was reported to be suffering from an ankle injury.

South China convenor, Steven Lo Kit-shing, was disappointed by their absence. 'I will offer hefty prize money for my players to beat them and show them how seriously we are taking the match,' Lo said before the friendly games.

It was a sad ending for China international Sun Jihai who was playing his last match for City after more than six years with the English Premier League club.

Sun led the side last Thursday but their performance was far from satisfactory. Lacking aggression and coupled with their loose defence, city were soundly beaten by the South China Invitation team.

City coach Sven Goran Eriksson was disappointed with the result, but said the match was very useful for the young players.

'We have four young players on the pitch coming from the Academy and it is good for them,' said Eriksson, whose future with City is still hanging in the balance.

The team donated their appearance fee of about HK$611,000 to Sichuan earthquake victims.

Italian powerhouse Juventus also failed to impress in front of 14,564 fans in So Kon Po. Juventus controlled the game at the beginning but they were unable to grasp their chances.

They proved to be costly misses when Manoel Santos Filho and Jose Wellington Santos scored for the Caroliners to put their side 2-0 up at half-time.

Juventus' Jonathan Zebina narrowed the gap with a goal late in the second half, but it was too little, too late.

Lo was very pleased with the performance of the two local teams and promised a HK$10,000 cash reward for each player. However, he was disappointed by the attendance and he estimated a HK$4 million loss for the local organisers.