1,600 fans turn up for season opener
More than 1,600 soccer fans turned out to witness Sunray Cave Sun Hei hold defending champions Kitchee to a 1-1 draw in their BMA First Division opener at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground yesterday.
'The attendance figure is encouraging particularly as there was live television coverage of the match,' said Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin.
'There will be a lot of new things this season as we are all working hard to change the game for a better future.'
Among these developments are the introduction in three weeks' time of a 24-hour Hong Kong soccer channel, the reopening of the Mong Kok Stadium after a HK$275 million facelift and the organisational restructuring of the Hong Kong Football Association under the Phoenix Project.
The opening match in the centennial season of the Hong Kong First Division produced an exciting performance by a revamped Sun Hei as they came close to upsetting the champions.
Sun Hei missed two clear-cut chances in the second half to wrap up the match with the score level. A header by striker Mamadou Barry beat Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng but the ball went just inches wide.
The former Guinea Under-23 international had a second chance in the closing stages, but his shot was parried by the keeper for a corner.
Leung Tsz-chun, who joined Sun Hei from Pegasus this summer, made a perfect start for his new club when he scored midway through the first half. Kitchee, who won their first league title in 47 years last season, equalised through a penalty from Roberto Losada early in the second period.
'There were seven new players in the starting line-up but all the boys' performance delighted me,' said Sun Hei coach Ricardo Rambo.
'Overall I am happy with our performance in our first match, especially as it was against the champions. I won't say we are the title favourites after just one match - Kitchee and South China are - but we can do better with plenty room for improvement.'
Kitchee's Ng admitted his side had a poor first half with their defence exposed by their opponents, while fullback Lo Kwan-yee said it was one their worst matches.
'Our performance in the first half was unacceptable,' said Ng.
'We made some changes after the break and overall it was not a bad result in our first match of the season.
'We still have two weeks to sort out all the problems before our next match against Wofoo Tai Po.'