Lee plays hero's role in thriller as HK lift cup

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong lifted the Interport Cup for the third consecutive year following a thrilling 4-1 extra-time victory over Guangdong yesterday.

After losing the opening leg 3-1 in Guangzhou a week earlier, the home team made a strong comeback in front of 3,300 fans at Mong Kok Stadium to record an aggregate 5-4 win.

'We must thank the fans as they kept chanting for us throughout the match,' said flanker Lee Wai-lim, who scored the second goal for Hong Kong and was instrumental in setting up the first and fourth in his first home international. 'Their keen support gave us extra impetus and determination to work for the victory.

'It was a hard-earned result because the opposition were quick and energetic. We had to pressure them from the beginning. The first goal was important as it gave us belief that we could come from behind to win.'

Represented by Sunray Cave, an under-19 team who will be promoted to the second-tier Chinese First Division in March, Guangdong were fit and speedy, but lacked experience.

This was evident when they allowed Hong Kong to seize the early initiative. And when Lee rounded two defenders and crossed in from the right for Chan Siu-ki to score in the 31st minute, Hong Kong were already in total command.

Lee added to the tally with a header in the 45th minute and Xu Deshuai put Hong Kong into a 4-3 lead on aggregate when he scored directly from a free kick four minutes into the second half. However, the visitors were back on equal terms when Win Haogbo converted a penalty in the 74th minute, forcing the match into 30 minutes of extra time. But Lee once again rose to the occasion as he crossed in for Leung Chun-pong to score the winning goal four minutes into the added period.

Despite his impressive performance, Lee remained cautious about his future with the Hong Kong team as they prepare for the 2009 Asian Cup qualifying campaign, which kicks off later this month. 'It's too early to say if I have established myself in the team,' said the 27-year-old Tai Po player. 'I am very happy to have scored a goal for Hong Kong, but I must keep working hard if I want to make myself a regular choice. After all, this is my first international duty.'

The players earned a bonus of HK$200,000 from the team managers, while the Football Association also rewarded each player with HK$5,000 for the win.