South China back in title hunt after defeating Kitchee
The BMA First Division title race was thrown wide open after South China defeated champions Kitchee 2-0 at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
Coupled with Sunray Cave Sun Hei's surprise 3-2 defeat by Citizen on Friday, TSW Pegasus now head the table on 18 points, one ahead of Sun Hei and Kitchee, who both tasted defeat for the first time in the league this season.
The Caroliners are on 16 points in third place, followed by Citizen, who are on 14 points.
Defender Joel Bertoti Padilha scored in each half in front of a 4,000-strong crowd, including one from the penalty spot awarded after he was brought down by Kitchee defender Daniel Cancela midway through the second half.
'It's just like starting all over again,' said Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin, who, despite the defeat, still praised his charges for their teamwork. 'We came close and passed the ball well but just lacked the finishing.'
He said playmaker Lam Ka-wai and striker Roberto Losado had yet to hit top form after recovering from injuries. 'They were not sharp enough and still need a few games to regain top form.
'We have something to build on in terms of improvement and with the arrival of some new players next month, we will soon return to playing our best.'
Coach Josep Gombau will return to Spain this week to eye a number of potential targets, while Ng said they might also look for an Asian player to replace Australian defender Michael Cvetkovski.
Bertoti Padilha, who opened the scoring just before the interval when he was free to head home from a corner, said it was South China's best performance so far this season.
'We did a good job to stop them in midfield and we never allowed them any space,' said the Brazilian. 'Also, we did not make mistakes in defence.'
South China convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing was delighted with the result, praising his charges' strong determination.
'We showed from the beginning we had the attitude to go out and win the match,' said Lo. 'The boys played like it was a cup final and battled hard for every ball. We deserved to win despite missing a couple of chances to add to the tally. The victory has kept our hopes alive.
'We have made a strong comeback from a poor start to the season and we stand a good chance of challenging for the title.'
The South China chief said they would bring in three new players once the transfer window opens next month.
Elsewhere, at Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Biu Chun Rangers had striker Sandro to thank after his hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win over Hong Kong Sapling. Alexander Akande was also on target for Rangers.